Doublespeak: China’s Bird Flu Spreading Rapidly
Monday, April 8, 2013
A new and deadly strain of bird flu in China is spreading rapidly, based on comments from officials saying the opposite.
"So far, we really only have sporadic cases of a rare disease, and perhaps it will remain that way. So this is not a time for over-reaction or panic," said Michael O'Leary, a representative with the World Health Organization.
On Monday the official number of cases rose to 24, with seven deaths.
A Chinese official also said everything is relatively fine.
"We are confident we can effectively control it,” said Li Bin, the head of China's National Health and Family Planning Commission.
But that's exactly the problem—these types of officials usually say close to the opposite of what's going on. Which is why we can infer that the flu is spreading rapidly, and that Chinese officials aren't confident they can control it.
We need look no further than the SARS epidemic that quickly spread in the early 2000's.
Chinese and world health officials repeatedly assured the public nothing was wrong with SARS, until the story broke out that there was indeed something very wrong. First covered by The Epoch Times using reporters and sources placed in key places inside the country and government, SARS turned out to have been spreading rapidly—eventually spreading to more than 30 nations, and killing more than 700 people. More than 8,000 people were infected.
Later, people reporting the 2006 bird flu became public enemies.
In fact, the World Health Organization seems to be going against a report issued in 2008, in which it said that infectious diseases are now spreading geographically much faster nowadays than at any time in history.
“It would be extremely naïve and complacent to assume that there will not be another disease like AIDS, another Ebola, or another SARS, sooner or later,” the report warned. It later said the next influenza pandemic will “likely be of an avian variety.”
It's “a matter of when, not if,” the organization stated. And when it happens, "an outbreak or epidemic in one part of the world," with billions of people traveling via airplane every year, "is only a few hours away from becoming an imminent threat somewhere else."
On Monday, O'Leary, with the organization, emphasized there's been no evidence of human-to-human transmission.
Yet even he could not deny that “the disease is very serious,” and, even according to official numbers, “a large percentage of cases have died—or a substantial percentage have died and others are critically ill.”
A possibility in all of this is the infected humans having contact with animals or places where animals frequent; there's been increasingly rampant problems with dozens of dead animals recently, whether they be thousands of pigs; hundreds of fish; or more than a thousand ducks.
Chinese officials claim they are working on a vaccine for the virus, but it may take up to eight months for it to be ready.
"China is demonstrating their ability to get on top of this problem quickly," said O'Leary.
Laurie Garrett, an expert on global public health at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the Chinese regime likely wouldn't admit if the virus has been spreading rapidly or if human-to-human contact has been found.
“All the pieces are falling into the kind of worrisome places that we keep an eye on at this stage of an outbreak,” she told Businessweek.
Photos: Flickr/Padmanaba01 women and chickens in ChinaFlickr/dmealiffe, a billboard warning about SARS, in Taiwan in 2004.