News Highlights

Sick cities: how to beat pandemics that spread like we live in one big metropolis

26 February — Fast diagnosis and good sanitation are our best weapons in the uneven fight against a rapid outbreak of disease... From bubonic plague in the middle ages to bird flu or Sars in the 21st century, infectious diseases have spread horrifyingly fast in cities, where people live in close proximity and sometimes crowded together. For all that face masks have become common apparel in Asia, citydwellers simply cannot guard their own health independently of their neighbours. On the contrary, cities need careful planning for health.

Editorial: Coping With Infectious Disease

21 February — The list of infectious diseases that could leap from remote areas of the world to strike countries thousands of miles away is growing. A warning of what can happen occurred a decade ago when an outbreak in China of a mysterious new viral disease, known as SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, was covered up by the Chinese authorities, allowing infected airline passengers to carry the virus to more than two dozen other countries. The disease killed nearly 800 people and caused large economic losses in Asia and Canada.

From Bird Flu to Big Farms: The Rise of China’s Agriculture

21 February — In my last post, I talked about the unnerving increase in avian flu H7N9 in China. The novel flu strain, now in its second year, appears to be spreading more rapidly than it did in its first appearance, and also more rapidly than H5N1, the avian flu strain that has caused the most worry internationally. You can’t have avian flu — or at least, not this avian flu — without birds; most of the people who have been diagnosed with H7N9 had contact with live chickens or visited a market that sold live poultry for slaughter.

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