From the Atlantic:
Alexander Abad-Santos 8:11 AM ET Since the first cases of the deadly H7N9 bird flu strain appeared in Shanghai earlier this month, Chinese health officials told the world not to panic because they couldn't find solid evidence of human-to-human transmission in any of what have grown into 82 reported infections. They maintained that until, well, guess what China's health experts are saying for the first time today? "Human-to-human transmission, in theory, is possible, but is highly sporadic," Feng Zijian, director of the health emergency center of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters in China on Thursday. "Further investigations are still under way to figure out whether the family cluster involved human-to-human transmission," Feng added.
The "family cluster" he's talking about is a case in which two sons may have contracted bird flu from their father, an 87-year-old man thought to be the first reported case of China's H7N9 virus, according to China Daily. Perhaps even more worrisome: The World Health Organization said Wednesday that there are other humans, aside from the two brothers being investigated, who appear to have contracted the deadly virus without any contact with poultry. (Even though it's called bird flu, that's how the Contagion thing was supposed to work with the spread of H729.) "It might be because of dust at the wet markets, it could be another animal source beside poultry, it could also be human-to-human transmission," WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl told Reuters. So, to be clear, officials aren't quite sure how people who aren't handling poultry are getting this strain of bird flu. And, to be sure, that's pretty scary.
Based on their experience with other strains of bird flu, Chinese health officials maintain that if H729 is, indeed, in the human-to-human transmission phase, it's only on a very small scale. "Zeng Guang, chief epidemiologist with China CDC, said people infected with H7N9 can transmit the virus within a period of time, in which they could possibly infect others," reported China Daily. But, Feng added, "that's highly rare and could be limited to within a family" ... "people don't need to panic, because such limited human-to-human transmission won't prompt a pandemic." As of Thursday 17 of the 82 infected people have died.
Worries about the spread of the virus were hammering down on airline stocks in Hong Kong Friday (Corrects an earlier version which mentioned the wrong day for the stocks’ fall), with shares of Air China Ltd. /quotes/zigman/32401 HK:753 -9.84%/quotes/zigman/424509 /quotes/nls/airyy AIRYY , China Southern Airlines Co. /quotes/zigman/17046 HK:1055 -8.51%/quotes/zigman/186291 /quotes/nls/znh ZNH and China Eastern Airlines Corp. /quotes/zigman/15816 HK:670 -8.28%/quotes/zigman/173680 /quotes/nls/cea CEA all plunging between 8.3% and 9.8%, while Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. /quotes/zigman/13952 HK:293 -4.06%/quotes/zigman/134758 /quotes/nls/cpcay CPCAY tumbled 4.1%.
“Currently, the situation seems to be much more serious than previous cases of bird flu, although still no comparison to the SARS [Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome] in spring 2003. The ongoing bird flu could have sizeable impact on the economy, so investors [are] justified to be cautious,” said Ting Lu, a China economist at B. of A. Merrill Lynch.
“We understand investors’ overreactions may not be avoidable, but past experiences [tell] us that the negative impact from such epidemics won’t last too long and ensuing pent-up demand could be quite strong, so there is no need for panic in financial markets,” Lu added.
Gaming stocks in Macau next. LVS & MPEL down 2% in pre-mkt.
By Fayen Wong and Clare Baldwin
SHANGHAI/HONG KONG (Reuters) - Chinese authorities slaughtered over 20,000 birds at a poultry market in Shanghai on Friday as the death toll from a new strain of bird flu mounted to six, spreading concern overseas and sparking a sell-off in airline shares in Europe and Hong Kong.
The local government in Shanghai said the Huhuai market for live birds had been shut down and 20,536 birds had been culled after authorities detected the H7N9 virus from samples of pigeons in the market. Other live poultry markets in the city will be closed down from Saturday, it said.
All the 14 reported infections from the H7N9 bird flu strain have been in eastern China and at least four of the dead are in Shanghai, a city of 23 million people and the showpiece of China's vibrant economy.
The latest death was of a 64-year-old man in Zhejiang province, state news agency Xinhua said on Friday, adding that none of the 55 people who had close contact with him had shown symptoms of infection.
BEIJING | Thu Apr 4, 2013 12:20pm EDT
BEIJING (Reuters) - The death toll from a new strain of bird flu rose to five in China on Thursday as Beijing said it was mobilizing resources nationwide to combat the virus, Japan and Hong Kong stepped up vigilance and Vietnam banned imports of Chinese poultry.
The H7N9 bird flu strain does not appear to be transmitted from human to human but authorities in Hong Kong raised a preliminary alert and said they were taking precautions at the airport.
In Japan, airports have put up posters at entry points warning all passengers from China to seek medical attention if they suspect they have bird flu.
A total of 14 people in China have been confirmed to have contracted H7N9, all in the east of the country. One of the cases was a four-year-old child, who was recovering, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Two people died on Thursday, both in Shanghai, bringing the number of deaths to five, state media said. Four of the five have died in Shanghai, China's booming financial hub.
Authorities in Shanghai also discovered the H7N9 virus in a pigeon sample taken from a traditional wholesale market, Xinhua added, believed to be the first time the virus has been discovered in an animal in China since the outbreak began.
Huge risk holding this name, 11 cases, 4 deaths, 3 provinces which is a huge geographic area meaning lot's more of these cases to come. Would you be holding this into the weekend? Not me.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
Simple, Bird Flu. Professional investors don't like to leave money on the table and with LVS near it's highs they sell first and ask questions later.
Think about it, there are a reported 11 people infected and 4 have died, in three different provinces - a huge geographic area. There is at least a 2-5 day incubation period, so do you think the news over the weekend will get better or worse? I wouldn't be holding this long into the weekend....
Sentiment: Strong Buy
Right. Article is from Reuters. Can you use Google, hard to type "china bird flu". 9 people, three deaths, big problems for China and discretionary spending.