The infection rate of bird flu in China seems to be more widespread than the health authorities suspected, as over one hundred people died this winter. The health experts underline that the H7N9 strain is very difficult to detect because it’s usually asymptomatic in birds.
This means that any infections can be detected only if health authorities or farmers take samples on flocks. The experts warn that the H7N9 strain might be even more dangerous that then H5N6 strain which affected many farms in South Korea last December.
The outbreak was so severe that the government needed the help of the army to cull roughly 26 million domestic birds. However, it is worth mentioning that the H6N6 strain didn’t kill people. Bird flu has become widely spread across the world over the past several months with more than five strains circulating.
The specialists explain that the strains can mix and mutate due to so many outbreaks. Fortunately, the H7N9 strain is quite hard to spread from one person to another. Based on the reports from the China’s CDC, most of the infected people were exposed to poultry at live markets.
The authorities had to shut down many live poultry markets in a nationwide attempt to contain the outbreak. According to the statistics, the H7N9 bird flu killed 79 people last month in China. The mortality rates were four times higher compared to previous years.
Although bird flu spikes are common in January because it represents the primary influenza season, the authorities remain on high alert. This highly contagious disease is especially dangerous in China because this country has the largest flock of geese, ducks, and chickens in the world, based on the estimates.
In 2014, China slaughtered over 11 billion birds for meat. The last severe outbreak of avian flu in China occurred in 2013 when 36 people died, while the farming industry suffered a loss of $6.5 billion. Last month, the officials from the agriculture ministry collected over 55,000 virological samples and 102,000 serum samples from poultry farms in twenty-six provinces.
The farmers were urged to keep their birds inside to prevent them from coming in contact with infected birds. Several European countries were also affected by bird flu as the authorities had to cull thousands of birds from poultry farms.