China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs reported an outbreak of a highly pathogenic strain of H5N1 bird flu at a farm in Shaoyang city of the southern province of Hunan last Saturday, February 1.
Reuters cites the farm as having a total of 7,850 chickens, 4,500 of which were infected and died from the bird flu. Following the outbreak, authorities have already culled 17,828 poultry in order to limit the spread of the virus.
The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites 1996 as the first detection of the virus in geese in China. It later spread to humans in 1997 then reemerged in 2003.
According to the CDC, “most human infections with Asian H5N1 viruses in other countries have occurred after prolonged and close contact with infected sick or dead birds. Rare human-to-human spread with this virus has occurred, but it has not been sustained and no community spread of this virus has ever been identified.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) explains that human cases of the H5N1 bird flu “occur occasionally, but it is difficult to transmit the infection from person to person.” However, the mortality rate for human infections stands at about 60%. Should the virus “become more easily transmissible among humans” the WHO states that it would then be a “cause for concern.”
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