More Virus in China, This Time Bird Flu

Already suffering from a major outbreak of diseases, China has now reported the development of H5N1 bird flu near the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs says the infected farm has 7,800 chickens, and 4,500 have died because of the bird flu. Local authorities have culled nearly 18,000 birds after the outbreak.

The South China Morning Post reports the H5N1 outbreak comes even as Chinese authorities continue to scramble to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus “further stretching the nation’s already heavily strained resources” needed to combat the health threats.

The World Health Organization calls H5N1 a type of influenza virus that causes a highly infectious, severe respiratory disease in birds. Human cases of H5N1 avian influenza occur occasionally, but it is difficult to transmit the infection from person to person. When people do become infected, the mortality rate is about 60 percent.

Almost all cases of H5N1 infection in people are associated with close contact with infected live or dead birds, or H5N1-contaminated environments.