China reports deadly bird flu outbreak among chickens

Beijing, China has reported a deadly H5N1 bird flu outbreak among chickens in Hunan province, which lies on the southern border of Hubei, the epicentre of the rapidly spreading coronavirus that has killed 304 people, it was reported on Sunday.

“The outbreak occurred in a farm in the Shuangqing district of Shaoyang city. The farm has 7,850 chickens, and 4,500 of the chickens have died from the contagion. Local authorities have culled 17,828 poultry after the outbreak,” the South China Morning Post newspaper quoted China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs as saying on Saturday.

No human cases of the Hunan H5N1 virus have been reported yet.

The bird flu outbreak comes even as the Chinese authorities continue efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has also infected a total of 14,380 persons in the Asian giant.

The H5N1 avian flu virus, often called bird flu, causes severe respiratory disease in birds and is contagious to humans.

The virus was first detected in 1996 in geese in China and is especially deadly for poultry.

It is possible, but difficult, to transmit bird flu from person to person, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

From 2003 to 2019, the WHO reported a total of 861 confirmed human cases of H5N1 worldwide, of whom 455 have died, reports the South China Morning Post.

In China, 53 human cases of bird flu infections have been reported in the past 16 years, with 31 fatalities.