Chinese Trains a Hidden Danger in Bird Flu&#039s Spread

November 29, 2005 Updated: November 29, 2005

TAIPEI – Research Professor Wang Boying from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, has said that passenger trains in China that discharge approximately 1,500 tons of untreated feces and urine every day, will become a significant, hidden danger in the spread of avian flu virus.

The Diagnosis and Treatment Plan for Human Avian Flu issued recently by China&#039s Ministry of Health indicates that avian flu virus can survive for one week in excrement at relatively low temperatures.

Hong Kong&#039s Ta Kung Pao newspaper quoted Wang, saying that the avian flu virus likes dry environments and low temperatures. Its incubation time is short and can cause disease very quickly. The mortality rate for infected poultry is 100 percent. The virus can live in excrement at low temperatures for a week, in dry dust for 2 weeks, or in water at 4˚C for one month.

Wang said that the H5N1 virus is present in saliva, nasal mucus secretions and excrement of infected poultry. The virus spreads via direct contact with infected poultry or their secretions or excrement. Currently, all the human cases of avian flu infection have been due to these direct contacts.

Wang believes once excrement is infected with the avian flu and discharged by the trains in Mainland China, as it atomizes and spreads in the air, it will bring disasters to an extremely broad area. In China, the railroad covers much of the rural area. During the Spring Festival, citizens in these rural area love to bring poultry with them on the train when they visit friends or relatives. It is not hard to imagine the scenario painted by Wang.

Wang appealed to government departments that the current open-style restrooms on the trains should be changed into non-flushing ones as soon as possible. The excrement should be collected and treated. In this way, it not only prevents the spread of the disease, but the residual materials could also be used as good and clean energy sources.

Wang Boying also believes that this vector has long been responsible for the accelerated spread of diseases. Human excrement is a vehicle for spreading hepatitis and parasites. Excrement from patients with hepatitis A and B or hepatitis B carriers contains the virus. Round intestinal worm, hookworms, cestodes, blood fluke and intestinal amoebiasis and other human parasites also spread via excrement.