China Faces H5N1 Bird Flu Outbreak Amid Coronavirus Epidemic

China’s local government and public health officials are currently hard at work trying to contain and stop the coronavirus outbreak, which has already been declared a global public health emergency due to the amount of people it has infected and killed. However, while China itself already didn’t have its hands, full with the current outbreak, officials now announced that there’s also a new bird flu outbreak in the country.

On an announcement made Saturday, China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs revealed an outbreak of a highly pathogenic strain of H5N1 bird flu at a farm located in the southern province of Hunan. An infection that can kill poultry and humans alike, it has, fortunately, hasn’t infected any humans yet. However, the new outbreak is also revealing a disturbing pattern that can have very grave global complications, what with China rising to global prominence in a world that’s becoming more interconnected by the day.

As per the latest release, the disease has already managed to kill 4,500 chickens in Hunan province alone, pushing the local government to cull around 1,800 chickens in order to hopefully prevent it from spreading.

The country is also not alone in trying to stop the spreading of the virus. Just earlier this week, reports revealed that authorities in India has also started culling chickens and destroying any eggs in order to contain the virus. In recent weeks, Europe has also been affected by the H5N8 virus, which is a different strain.

With that in mind, a report by the United States Geological survey stated that there’s no need to panic at the moment because the virus being “highly pathogenic” refers to its ability to kill chickens, and not humans.

“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. Influenza viruses constantly undergo genetic changes. It would be a cause for concern, should the H5N1 virus become more easily transmissible among humans,” WHO said in a statement.

Nevertheless, experts are still seeing it as a ticking time bomb, what with a staggering 60 percent mortality rate.

Bird Flu (6) A French farmer looks at ducks in their cage at a poultry farm in Doazit, Southwestern France, December 17, 2015. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau