Watching the new H7N9 bird flu begin its deadly spread in China offered a glimpse of what it would be like if it hit the western world. But in the case it becomes easily transmitted among people, the world is unprepared to face the consequences of the pandemic, the deputy chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday.
Although extensive preparations were made during the H1N1 scare of 2009-2010, "the world is not ready for a large, severe outbreak," Deputy Chief Keiji Fukuda told WHO delegates.
"When people get hit with an emerging disease, you can't just go to a book and know what to do," he added.
With the death toll at 35 and 130 infected, China has resorted to killing millions of chickens and consumers have avoided eating them, costing the poultry industry more than $6.5 billion as a result.