China orders poultry cull after sixth death from bird flu never seen in humans before
Jeremy Laurance is a writer on health issues. He is former health editor of The Independent and the i and has covered the specialism for more than 20 years. He thinks the harm medicine does is under-appreciated, the harm it prevents over-rated, and that cycling works better than most drugs. He was named Specialist Journalist of the Year in the 2011 British Press Awards.
Friday 05 April 2013
Alarm over a sixth death from a strain of lethal bird flu never before seen in humans has led Chinese authorities to slaughter more than 20,000 birds at a poultry market in Shanghai.
The city stopped sales of live fowl and slaughtered all poultry at the market after the virus was detected in pigeons being sold for meat.
With stock markets taking fright, leading to a sell-off in Hong Kong, medical experts said the outbreak was worrying and demonstrated global vulnerability to a new disease.
However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) moved to insist there is no evidence of “sustained human-to-human transmission” while awaiting laboratory tests on a further two deaths suspected to have been caused by the virus.
Sixteen cases of infection with the H7N9 strain have been confirmed by the WHO in the last week, and 520 people who have been in close contact with confirmed victims were being closely monitored.
Avian flu strains infecting humans such as H5N1 have emerged in China before because the Chinese habit of sharing domestic accommodation with poultry provides ideal conditions for new virus mutations in one species to jump to the other.
Alan Hampson, an influenza expert and chair of the Australian Influenza Specialist Group, said the reports were “certainly concerning.”
“There is a virus out there which, like the H5N1 strain, appears to be causing serious illness, but how widespread that illness is at this very early stage, we don’t know”, he said.
“If a virus starts to transmit among humans then there’s no telling how quickly it might travel and where it might travel to... Does it have pandemic potential? Yes, any influenza that jumps from an animal species to a human has pandemic potential. If it learns to spread in humans then it’s a high likelihood it will become pandemic.”
With six deaths among 16 cases, the virus appears to have a high mortality rate. But it may be that there are many unidentified cases of mild infection, which are unrecorded because the individuals do not seek medical help.
However lethal the virus is, if it does not spread among humans, or spreads only with difficulty, it is much less of a threat.
Swedish stars ask fans for £195 pledges on crowd-funding website
voicesJust when you thought you could find a man, get married, and have a baby by the age of 35... it turns out you’re too late, says Grace Dent
sportNapoli 2 Arsenal 0: Gunners must now face either Real Madrid, PSG, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid or Barcelona in knock-out stages
musicAs Mariah Carey and Noddy Holder rake in the royalties from their classics, why there hasn't been a decent festive hit for 20 years?
theatreAuthor Daniel Rosenthal recalls the mishaps that almost brought the curtain down on the likes of John Gielgud and Diana Rigg
filmFilm producers sue Warner Bros for $75m over Hobbit films
lifeAs the Royal Mail plans to phase out deliveries on two wheels, it's no wonder posties are in a spin
musicThe 21-year-old beat Ella Eyre and Chlöe Howl to win the honour
lifeFull of the joys and want to help your fellow man? December isn't the time to do it
techLuke Blackall reports on precision engineered prams and babygros that monitor your child 24-7
- 1 Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute
- 2 It’s shameful that our universities have accepted gender segregation under pressure from the most oppressive religious fanatics
- 3 Kenyan politician Mike Sonko left red-faced after photoshopping himself next to Nelson Mandela
- 4 Exeter to Edinburgh and back in a day: How one fresher's lost bet left him facing a 900-mile round trip
- 5 Selfie at funeral: Cameron squeezes in on Obama snap at Mandela memorial
- < Previous
- Next >
£77099.84 - £96375.26 per annum + Bonus + Benefits : Harrington Starr: My clie...
£45000 - £60000 per annum + Bonus and Package: Harrington Starr: Trading appli...
£35000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Developer (Win...
£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: Senior QA Engineer Tes...