News / Asia

Chinese New Year Increases Risk of Spreading Bird Flu

Passengers carry their belongings while arriving at the Beijing railway station in Beijing, Jan. 19, 2014.
Passengers carry their belongings while arriving at the Beijing railway station in Beijing, Jan. 19, 2014.
Shannon Van Sant
In January, China saw a rise in the number of people diagnosed with bird flu.  As the Chinese New Year approaches, millions of people will begin their annual journey home for the holiday, increasing the opportunity for the virus to spread. 
 
A recent outbreak of the H7N9 virus has already killed 19 people in China this year.
 
Dr. Bernhard Schwartlander, the World Health Organization's representative in China, says crowded train stations and airports typify the annual migration home for the holiday.
 
“If there are mass movements many people are traveling.  The trains are crammed with people.  The planes are full.  People are running around everywhere.  That always bears the risk of transmission of infections,” the doctor explained.
 
​Aside from the risks of contracting the illness while traveling, traditional New Year celebrations in some parts of China include killing live chickens.
 
To help prevent the spread, live poultry sales have been barred in Shanghai and eastern Zhejiang Province.  Officials in Zhejiang have also launched emergency surveillance of farms and stopped the flying of domestic pigeons.
 
A health worker removes a dead chicken at a wholesale poultry market in Hong Kong, Jan. 28, 2014.A health worker removes a dead chicken at a wholesale poultry market in Hong Kong, Jan. 28, 2014.
x
A health worker removes a dead chicken at a wholesale poultry market in Hong Kong, Jan. 28, 2014.
A health worker removes a dead chicken at a wholesale poultry market in Hong Kong, Jan. 28, 2014.
Hong Kong’s health officials are also shutting poultry markets for disinfection and plan to cull 20,000 birds.
 
In one of the largest annual mass migrations in the world, the Chinese government estimates more than 3.6 billion trips will be taken over the 40 day travel period this year. More than 50 percent of China’s population now lives in cities, but many return to their childhood homes in the countryside for the new year holiday.
 
In Heifei in eastern China, 17-year-old Fu Anqi says her mother worries about the potential spread of avian flu during the holiday season.
 
“She kind of had a struggle between protecting ourselves from the flu and seeing our relatives in Beijing,” Fu said.
 
So far, bird flu has only been transmitted among birds and from birds to humans. The WHO’s Dr. Schwartlander says the virus has not mutated yet to a form where it can spread easily between humans.
 
“So far there is no evidence of person to person transmission," the doctor noted.
 
Health officials remain on high alert though this holiday season as the virus continues to circulate and sicken China’s poultry.  The H7N9 virus has infected 96 people in China since the disease was first identified in 2013.

You May Like

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Bob Secombe from: Australia
January 28, 2014 4:08 PM
Both China and US are just as guilty. China more so with their expansionist policies.

by: Sino-phobia from: Rest of the world
January 28, 2014 8:08 AM
Oh! Don't spread the flu virus! Chinese have been spreading every evil thing in the world, such as air pollution, poisonous food, SARS, bird flu, bubble economy, invasion in other countries, bullying small countries, and so on. Don't destruct world's peace.
In Response

by: Anonymous
January 29, 2014 2:09 AM
Not sure if joking or serious.
In Response

by: CL from: Wuxi
January 28, 2014 10:16 AM
we will make a proper settlement for our own affairs attached to the position of being one of the largest country in the world.and you,u better dont stick your nose into other people's business
In Response

by: Gavin Yin from: Changsha
January 28, 2014 9:24 AM
Ridiculous!What is meaning of “Don't destruct world's peace”?How and why did you think just like that.Moreover, something might be awful just a small part of China.You take it extremely.
In Response

by: fu loon from: USA
January 28, 2014 9:07 AM
Is the writer commenting on America....or China??

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More