According to the public health specialists in China, 192 people were affected by bird flu out of which 79 died last month. The authorities had to shut down many live poultry markets throughout the country to reduce the rates of infections in people.
The health officials reported 77 cases of avian flu and eight deaths in February so far. The H7N9 is a highly contagious strain of avian flu which can infect humans who come into close contact with sick live poultry and dead birds.
The latest victims are a young woman and her daughter. Both came into contact with infected live poultry. People who live in small towns and rural areas would rather buy live geese, ducks, and chickens, thus increasing the risk of infection.
That is why the health officials have banned the sales of live poultry in many areas throughout the southwestern, southern, and eastern China. For instance, all live-poultry markets in Zhejiang were shut down.
The doctors said that most of the infections occurred due to the contact with infected birds. The first H7N9 outbreak in humans occurred in 2013. Since then, this contagious disease has been affecting many farms and people each spring and winter.
Worse, the rates of infection are the highest recorded in the past four years. Last year in January, the health authorities reported 28 human cases, out of which five people died. The situation became more severe in November when more than 355 people were infected with the H7N9 avian flu.
The last devastating outbreak occurred in 2003 when more than 336 people died of severe acute respiratory syndrome or SARS. Back then, the authorities did their best to contain it. It is worth mentioning that SARS affected other countries too as hundreds of other people died.
The health officials are currently conducting a comprehensive investigation to detect the source of the outbreak and prevent it from spreading. Farmers must keep their birds isolated until further notice. Otherwise, the outbreak might turn into an epidemic which will be much more difficult to contain.
Many European countries are also raising awareness among rural and urban communities to reduce the rates of infection. In case any other strain of avian flu is detected in a poultry farm, the authorities will slaughter all birds.