China’s outbreak of H7N9 bird flu is “contained“, according to officials, but locals are choosing to avoid chicken anyway.
The outbreak has continued to grow since it first made headlines last week, and with ⅓ of those affected dead, caution is winning the day, sort of. Live bird markets are being shut down, although no word on whether infected birds are being quarantined or destroyed.
The more important question is who has been affected. In most bird flu outbreaks, the people who live and work with birds (usually chickens) are the ones who catch the illness. But in severe outbreaks, people another step removed become infected—which is the real red flag.
The SARS outbreak of 2003 originated in China and managed to make it around the world before dying out (although a new strain has originated in the Middle East and has spread to the UK). Health officials in the US are preparing for a possible bird flu outbreak by creating and storing new H7N9 vaccines.
Bird flu is not airborne between people, although with other strains some people in very close contact have managed to catch it. Symptoms of bird flu are severe and aggressive respiratory illness—damaging lung tissue and eventually leading to death.
If you’re travelling through Southeast Asia this summer, be careful about preventing disease transmission. Airports and airplanes are known for hosting germs.
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