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1 Feb, 2020 21:10

Clucking hell! New outbreak of BIRD FLU sees thousands of chickens culled in coronavirus-stricken China

Clucking hell! New outbreak of BIRD FLU sees thousands of chickens culled in coronavirus-stricken China

As China grapples with the rampant Wuhan coronavirus, another sickness has broken out in the country: the deadly H5N1 bird flu.

The outbreak took place at a farm near Shaoyang city, in China’s central Hunan province, the country’s Ministry of Agriculture announced on Saturday. 4,500 of the farm’s 7,850 chickens have died from the illness, and local authorities have culled nearly 20,000 birds to contain its spread.

H5N1 is an avian flu virus that causes severe respiratory disease in birds, and is contagious to humans. No human victims have yet been reported, but the World Health Organization (WHO) states that more than 350 people have died from the virus since it first spread to humans in Hong Kong in the late 1990s.

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H5N1 is a far deadlier virus to those who contract it. Nearly 60 percent of H5N1 patients die after contracting the sickness, compared to two percent of Wuhan coronavirus (2019 nCoV) patients thus far.

Hunan province is bordered to the north by Hubei province, whose capital city, Wuhan, is the epicenter of the current coronavirus epidemic. Believed to have jumped from animals to humans at a market in the city last month, the coronavirus has since since spread to every region of China and to more than 25 other countries worldwide. 250 patients have been confirmed dead and nearly 12,000 more infected in China. So far, no patients abroad have died.

The outbreak has prompted multiple countries – including the United States, Australia, and Vietnam – to restrict entry to travelers from China, and a number of international airlines to suspend flights to and from the country. Russia has temporarily shut the Far Eastern border with its neighbor, halted visa-free travel for tourist groups and stopped processing Chinese work visas. 

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A number of multinational corporations – including Toyota, Apple, Google and Starbucks – have shuttered their operations in China due to the virus.

In addition to the human cost of the outbreak, the coronavirus has hammered world stock markets, and could cost the Chinese economy $60 billion this quarter, according to some estimates.