New 'Highly Pathogenic' Virus Emerges in China that Spreads from Birds to Humans
H5N1 outbreak confirmed just 300 miles from coronavirus center - 4500 chickens dead so far
Health officials in China have confirmed a fresh outbreak of a deadly and "highly pathogenic" virus that spreads between birds and humans, with 4,500 chickens already killed by the bug.
The outbreak of the H5N1 bird flu was detected near the epicenter of the deadly coronavirus, Chinese news outlets are reporting.
According to the South China Morning Post, the virus was reported Saturday in Hunan, which borders the province of Hubei where the coronavirus broke out last month.
“The outbreak occurred in a farm in the Shuangqing district of Shaoyang city,” officials said.
“The farm has 7,850 chickens, and 4,500 of the chickens have died from the contagion.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that the fatal H5N1 virus causes “a highly infectious, severe respiratory disease in birds.”
The flu can be transmitted to humans, but so far, there have been no reports of anyone contracting the illness, the outlet said.
The outbreak comes as Chinese authorities struggle to contain the new coronavirus strain, which has killed more than 300 people.
The H5N1 virus outbreak was initially reported at a farm in Shaoyang city in the southern province of Hunan, just 300 miles south of the epicenter of the Coronavirus in Wuhan.
According to the Reuters report, Chinese authorities have already culled 17,828 poultry in the wake of the outbreak.
The farm has now been sealed off and sterilized, according to reports.
The bird flu has been classed as highly pathogenic because of the number of birds that have died from the disease.
Health officials say the H5N1 strain of the virus has "caused concern" in recent years.
Although the disease doesn't easily infect humans and it is hard to spread it from human to human, several people have been infected around the world and died.
When people do become infected by the disease, the rate of mortality is about 60 percent, according to WHO.
People can become infected by coming into close contact with infected live or dead birds, or H5N1-contaminated environments.
Shaoyang is about 302 miles from the central city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus outbreak began late last month.
As of Monday, there are now 17,459 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The death toll currently stands at 362 people, while 489 have recovered.