Dark Wings, Dark Words

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Dark Wings, Dark Words

Chicken Market in China

Chicken Market in China

Chicken Market in China

Chicken Market in China

Michael Houle, Writer

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The other day a woman in Taiwan was diagnosed with a disease that had been previously thought to be unable to infect humans. It was a certain strain of bird flu, a specific strain of a larger breed of sickness that has been recently spreading through China at a frightening rate. It is currently perplexing scientists how the woman first contracted bird flu, considering her complete lack of exposure to live birds. However, her family members had begun to experience flu-like symptoms, showing the disease’s potential for spreading rapidly.

So far, just a single strain of bird flu (H5N1) has been responsible for the deaths of over 600 people since it’s emergence in 1996. With the addition of multiple other strains popping up throughout the country, public health officials have had their hands full in tracking the progress of the deadly diseases. One of the more notable obstacles in this pursuit is that scientists have no early signals to a new breakout of bird flu until a human falls ill with the disease. This leaves them with nothing to do except wait for a case to pop up, and hope that they’re able to contain it before it does any lasting damage.

The majority of the various strains of bird flu seem to have yet to evolve a way to easily spread across people, but they could mutate at any time, resulting in China being patient zero in what could blossom into a global epidemic.

 

Sources:

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/E/EU_MED_TAIWAN_BIRD_FLU?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2013-11-14-05-21-09