The bird flu season this year is already shaping up to be the most terrifying in China on record with the virus infecting 192 people and killing 79 in January alone.
That number far outpaces the January death tolls in recent years, which have ranged between 20 and 31 people, and has skyrocketed since two deaths and seven infections alarmed the country back in December. The total number of those killed by the virus since October is now up to 100, along with 306 people infected, Reuters reports, citing data from China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission.
This revelation has caused Chinese chicken prices to drop to their lowest level in more than a decade, placing China’s poultry producers in a precarious situation.
The virus is known to strike each winter and spring. Following an outbreak in 2013 that caused widespread panic, killing 36 people and resulting in more than $6 billion in economic losses for China’s agricultural sector, China began to institute measures to contain and prevent the disease.
This winter, those policies have led to poultry markets around the country being shut down and some 175,000 birds being culled as Chinese authorities have become increasingly worried about the spread of the deadly virus.
Last week, Guangzhou officials advised residents to avoid contact with any live poultry after one-third of poultry markets in the city were found to be contaminated with bird flu.
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