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50 new cases of H7N9 avian flu in humans reported in China

In Guangdong Province, 15 of the 21 prefecture-level cities have reported H7N9 avian flu cases, and 12 people have died, xinhuanet.com is reporting. The province saw its first case Jan. 5, 2015 when a six-year-old child was hospitalized with the virus. To date, there have been over 500 cases in China since H7N9 avian flu was first detected in humans in 2013.

Epidemiological information available indicates that H7N9 avian flu virus in humans comes from direct contact with infected poultry, such as having contact with environments where infected poultry have been kept and slaughtered. This occurs in “wet markets” where consumers can go to pick out their poultry, having it slaughtered on the spot.

One of the difficulties in identifying H7N9 in poultry is because the virus doesn’t cause a severe disease in the fowl. It is considered a silent killer, making it all the more insidious. As with most avian flu viruses, there is a jump in cases in the winter months, continuing into the early spring, usually from January through March.

Poultry sales slump before start of Chinese New Year
There has been a significant drop in retail poultry sales as a result of the H7N9 avian flu epidemic, says the New Taipei City Poultry Marketing Cooperative’s Secretary-General, Wu Fu-cheng, according to the China Post. According to Wu, last Lunar new Year, cooperative slaughterhouses butchered 40,000 birds per day during the week before the year of the Horse started.

This year, Wu says, there are on average only 20,000 birds being slaughtered, and its not because of the supply. Demand is down due to fears over the H7N9 flu virus. Wu says the market price has dropped despite assurances that the markets have passed government inspections. Instead, people are turning to pork and fish products this year. The price of pork has risen with the demand as over 5,200 pigs pass through local markets each day.

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We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our dear friend Karen Graham, who served as Editor-at-Large at Digital Journal. She was 78 years old. Karen's view of what is happening in our world was colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in humankind's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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