April 30, 2013

Why Is China a Hot Zone for Bird Flu?

Katie Drummond, The Verge

AP Photo

Two key elements make China a hotbed for new avian influenza: an exceptional density of people living alongside huge numbers of chickens and ducks, and a thriving live-bird market system. And these live-bird markets are not only a cultural norm, but also integral to a great number of local economies. China is home to a diverse array of avian species, including large populations of both domestic and migratory birds living in the same areas. "Mixing of bird species in small spaces [like markets] provides a great opportunity for the virus to infect different species and to mutate," Tanya Graham, PhD, a veterinary pathologist at South Dakota State University, told The Verge. "Because influenzas are constantly mutating, at some point the virus mutated enough to infect humans."

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TAGGED: China, bird flu, H7N9

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