Beijing is currently under an epidemic, with an outbreak of H7N9 “bird flu”. As of the 18th of February, health officials have stated that eight deaths and 77 diagnosed cases in this month alone. The emergence of this viral disease has alarmed many, with officials claiming it to be one of the largest pandemic threats in the last 100 years. The toll of a modern pandemic could result in a very large toll unless the threat is isolated and reacted. Society is much denser than it was before, and despite the advances in technology and health, a repeat of the Spanish flu fears many. The Spanish flu was a deadly pandemic that began in the year 1918, and infected roughly 500 million people across the world, and caused the death of around 50 million at the lowest. Which at the time was around 3% of the world’s population. It was one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history.
Behind the virus, the strain, H7N9 is an avian influenza virus, that has the potency to infect people who come into close contact with newly killed birds, or infected birds. The China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission banned sales of live poultry in most areas across eastern,southern and southwestern China. The eastern province of Zhejiang demanded all live-poultry markets to be closed. Scientists are very concerned that the virus could eventually mutate into one that passes between people, at the moment, almost all confirmed infections have come from direct contact with birds.
H7N9 has a history, in China, reported to have spread in 2013. Many cases spiked each winter and spring, however this year’s spike was the deadliest in four years. In 2003, the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome or SARS, caused many officials to hide the epidemic from the public. This lead to a public distrust that has been created due to the 336 people that died in China from the outbreak. At the moment many experts have claimed that the number of H7N9 cases will only increase, as it is too late to contain the virus in the poultry. WHO, has stated that the biggest risk is the disease spreading outside of the borders of China.