Via Reuters: In China, consumers seem to shrug off deadly bird flu outbreak. Excerpt and then a comment:
Four years ago, a bird flu outbreak in China killed at least three dozen people, triggered mass poultry culling, put masks on millions of Chinese faces and hammered shares in fast food and travel companies.
This winter, more than 100 people have died, but few birds have been slaughtered, there are few masks on the streets and little sign of any consumer reaction, let alone the panic seen in 2013.
The number of posts mentioning "bird flu" or "H7N9" on China's popular Sina Weibo microblog - a useful proxy for gauging consumer interest or concern - peaked at just over 40,000 on Wednesday after the health ministry said as many as 79 people died from H7N9 bird flu in January alone.
At the peak of the 2013 outbreak, daily posts topped 850,000.
"Everyone's just used to it now," said Yuan Haojie, 24, a real estate worker in Shanghai. "Every year we seem to have some sort of bird flu outbreak, but it never seems to affect anyone I know. Gradually you stop worrying about it."
The 2013 outbreak was the first in China of the H7N9 bird flu strain. The virus this year appears to be less pathogenic among poultry, which show few symptoms, but more deadly among humans in direct contact with infected birds at live markets and on farms.
Four years ago, the outbreak cost the economy an estimated $6.5 billion, took chicken off the menu at schools and on airplanes, and prompted the widespread slaughter of millions of birds. The biggest impact this year is that Chinese chicken prices have dropped to their lowest levels in more than a decade.
I doubt that H7N9 is "less pathogenic" now than it used to be. The virus doesn't seem to have much effect on poultry; we know it's around when people start getting sick. Early searches for the virus were notable for the rarity of finding it. Its lack of symptoms in poultry helps to explain how it's travelled so widely across China.