China's Bird Flu Goes Airborne

Tyler Durden's picture

As if China was not suffering enough from a slumping economy, the South China Morning Post now reports that the H7N9 'bird flu' virus that has infected 131 people (and killed 36) so far can be transmitted not only by close contact but by airborne exposure. Domestic reports suggest the virus appears to be brought under control largely through restrictions at bird markets but the team at the University of Hong Kong has also found that pigs can be infected (cue 'when pigs can fly' pun). The findings suggest that there may be many more cases that have been detected or reported since "people may be transmitting the virus before they know they've even got it."

 

Click image for interactive map of 'bird flu' infections...

For more information on individual patients infected: blue, patients infected with the H7N9 virus under treatment; red, those infected with H7N9 who have died; yellow, those who have fully recovered; and pink, those infected other types of the Influenza A virus, including H1N1.

 

Via SCMP,

The H7N9 bird flu virus can be transmitted not only through close contact but by airborne exposure, a team at the University of Hong Kong found after extensive laboratory experiments.

 

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"We also found that the virus can infect pigs, which was not previously known," said Dr Maria Zhu Huachen, a research assistant professor at HKU's School of Public Health.

 

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It was found the virus could spread through the air, from one cage to another, albeit less efficiently.

 

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This means there may be more cases than have been detected or reported.

 

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"People may be transmitting the virus before they even know that they've got it," Zhu said.

 

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She said the government had collaborated with HKU on intensive surveillance of both birds and pigs. Zhu added that people who regularly had close contact with live poultry or pigs should take precautions, have routine body checks and report their case immediately if they feel unwell.