As of Friday, health officials confirmed eight deaths and 77 diagnosed cases just in February, according to Xinhua, the state news agency. Last month, 192 people in China learned they had the virus, and 79 of them died, according to official numbers released on Tuesday. The strain, H7N9, is an avian influenza virus that can infemt people who come in close contact with infected live or newly killed birds.
like previous outbreaks, it is confined to people who caught the disease from handling chickens.
The real danger starts if the virus mutates another step to spread person to person... some suspect this caused the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918, that killed more people than World War I....
but the various birdflu viruses can decimate the poultry farms, and there have been outbreaks all over the world. The virus is spread via migrating birds and luckily for us the Philippines does not have a lot of migrating bird.
The big worry is that someone will kill and export the infected chickens and spread the disease to people.
NYT2015 article on the potential threat of Bird flu to the poultry industry... discussing how it has hurt chicken and poultry raising farmers in the USA.
Iraq has been deeply hit last year with the problem, for example, as have other countries.
one reason may be that if a chicken farm is infected, the entire flock will get it. And chicken farms are alas monoculture chickens, limited to a few breeds. One way to protect chickens is keep the chickens indoors and use ventillation fans.
and the bad news for all those yuppies who love their back yard chickens: Beware of bird flu if migrating birds mingle with your chickens... this is why Jakarta banned chickens (actually fighting cocks) inside city limits a couple years ago.
there also has been some work to find chickens resistant to influenza: this would include cross breeding with traditional breeds, and also GMO chickens.
Chickens and eggs are a cheap source of protein, and the chicken farming business has spread all over the world.
Here is Eng. Hamid with an example of how to raise chickens... he runs a teaching farm in Iran...
this is not the only agricultural business hit by disease:
and recently there has been anoutbreak of footandmouth disease in Korea, that affects cattle LINK
during the last asian outbreak, we had to walk on a specialized mat in the airport just in case our shoes had the virus riding on the soles.