"Hong Kong has begun a mass cull of around 20,000 chickens after the deadly H7N9 bird flu virus was discovered in a batch of poultry imported from mainland China. Officials wearing masks and protective suits piled dead chickens into black plastic bags at a wholesale market in Hong Kong where the virus was discovered on Monday…. The discovery of the avian influenza virus came just days after Hong Kong introduced widespread testing of imported live poultry following growing public concern over the safety of imports, particularly from the mainland."
"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." Anything else? "'We also found that the virus can infect pigs, which was not previously known.'"
"Thousands of ducklings deemed unfit for human consumption following China's latest bird flu outbreak are being sold as live snake food. Poultry farmers have resorted to selling truckloads of the newly-hatched ducklings to snake farms for a few pence each after 14 deaths in China were blamed on the lethal H7N9 virus. One duck farmer said of the creatures' unpleasant fate: 'It's either this or we just gas them all'."
"Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai reported that a virulent new strain of influenza — the virus that causes the flu — appears to retain its ability to cause serious disease in humans even after it develops resistance to antiviral medications."
"Every pandemic begins small. Early indicators can be subtle and ambiguous. When the Next Big One arrives, spreading across oceans and continents like the sweep of nightfall, causing illness and fear, killing thousands or maybe millions of people, it will be signaled first by quiet, puzzling reports from faraway places — reports to which disease scientists and public health officials, but few of the rest of us, pay close attention. Such reports have been coming in recent months from two countries, China and Saudi Arabia."
"Taiwan confirmed an H7N9 bird flu infection in a Taiwanese traveler from China, demonstrating the risk of the killer virus entering cities outside the mainland."
"The deadly new strain of bird flu has spread further on [China's] mainland, with two people in Henan province confirmed yesterday as infected with H7N9, the first cases in the region. Shanghai reported two new deaths, those of a 67-year-old woman who died on Saturday and a 77-year-old man who died yesterday morning, bringing the national death toll to 13. Three new cases were confirmed in Shanghai yesterday, four in Zhejiang province and two in neighbouring Jiangsu , giving a national total of 60." Meanwhile, closer to home, "Health experts worked hard Sunday to defuse fears of a national epidemic among gay men after a Sacramento native died [...]
"Hong Kong confirmed its first case of deadly H7N9 bird flu on Monday in a further sign that the virus is continuing to spread beyond mainland China's borders."
"A man in the northeastern Chinese province of Shandong has been infected by a new strain of bird flu, the first case found in the province, state news agency Xinhua said on Monday, bringing the total number of cases in China to 105…. [I]n the two months since it was first detected, the H7N9 flu has already resulted in almost twice as many confirmed infections in China as H5N1 caused there in a decade." Also: "'If the virus does develop the capacity to spread from person to person then it could mean a much greater concern about this virus because it means it could slip across borders undetected.'"
"H7N9 bird flu is considered a low pathogenic strain that cannot easily be contracted by humans," the AP reports from Beijing. Well that would be very comforting for humans (if not for birds), except for the sad fact that the wire story is about the first two humans known to be killed by H7N9. Another infected human is in critical condition.
But it's supposedly a low-level virus and not the SARS kind of crazy—that virus jumped to humans from a weird kind of wildcat cruelly captured and then kept in cages to sell to bad people at markets. SARS eventually killed 775 of the 8,000 infected during that [...]