H7N9 bird flu spreads in China

A new type of bird flu virus never found in humans before has been infecting and killing people in China for months.

CCTV America reported on the emergence of early cases and some of the government’s measures.

The first two deaths occurred in February, but was not reported by authorities until late March, when a third case was found in Nanjing, Jiangsu province in China. The total number of confirmed cases now increased to 14, while the number of human deaths has risen to five, reported by AFP.

Fox News reported that The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention shared the genetic sequence of the virus with other scientists to help further study on the flu:

Flu viruses evolve constantly, and scientists say such changes have made H7N9 more capable of infecting pigs.

The scientists who inspected the genetic data also said that based on information from the genes and Chinese lab testing, the H7N9 virus appears able to infect some birds without causing any noticeable symptoms. Without obvious outbreaks of dying chickens or birds, authorities could face a challenge in trying to trace the source of the infection and stop the spread.

In an article in China.org.cn, experts said that so far there is not sufficient evidence to prove that the infection is related to the chicken in the market.

Dongjiao market in the eastern suburbs of Beijing. Photo from Flickr. Some rights reserved.

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