EDITORIAL

Influenza and the Live Poultry Trade

Science  18 Apr 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6181, pp. 235
DOI: 10.1126/science.1254664

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Summary

Live poultry trade at local markets has long been a part of China's national identity. From small villages to big cities, the gathering and selling of different birds in this vibrant atmosphere is at the heart of the country's cuisine culture. Unfortunately, the backdrop to this tradition has changed. Last year, the H7N9 virus, a new strain of influenza A, jumped from birds to humans, causing 144 cases of human infection and 47 deaths in China. Now a second wave of this flu is coursing through the country, with 258 confirmed cases and 99 deaths as of 8 April 2014. Scientific evidence points to a connection between the conditions at these live markets and the spread of flu, suggesting that until other means are found to prevent the transmission of or effectively treat the illness, China must shut down live poultry markets to prevent further spread of the virus and a possible global pandemic.

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