Sichuan Earthquake Provides Deadly Bird Flu Clue

Created: 2013-04-24 13:45 EST

Category: China
In the wake of Saturday’s Sichuan earthquake, a round of epidemic prevention is underway in and around Lushan County.

The problem with natural disasters is that the aftermath can be even more deadly. In the wake of Saturday’s Sichuan earthquake, a round of epidemic prevention is underway in and around Lushan County.

120,000 people live in Lushan, and the region has been flooded with refugees—an estimated 54,000 more people crowded in an area with broken water lines and soaring temperatures. It’s an ideal environment—for infectious disease.

[Fan Quanshui, Director, Disease Control Center of Chengdu Military Area Command]:
"This place is in the tropical and subtropical zone where rainfall is abundant. So in addition to ordinary disinfection work, we should be focused on exterminating flies, insects and prevention against parasitic diseases.”

Amidst the prevention efforts, a CCTV report carried an alarming contradition to something that's been in the headlines for more than a month. One epidemic prevention expert said it was vital to disinfect animal carcasses because viruses could be spread through dead animals.

[Han Tie, Epidemic Prevention Expert]:
"If left undisposed, viruses from a dead pig can be spread by migratory birds and insects, leading to secondary disasters."

That may make you think back to Shanghai. After 16,000 pig carcasses washed up in a major drinking source, authorities assured the population that the water was still safe to drink. Shortly afterwards, a deadly new form of the H7N9 bird flu suddenly appeared. Again, authorities were quick to emphasized there was no link between the dead pigs and the bird flu.

So as epidemic prevention vehicles hand out clean water, residents should also look to the skies and worry whether that bird might not be carrying more than a song.