Five Recent Cases of Avian Influenza


Chicken (via Flickr/Tomasz Nowicki)

On Mar. 17, 2016, an 81-year-old woman in Hong Kong was admitted to the hospital for pneumonia and later transferred after testing positive for the H7N9 strain of avian influenza.  She is currently stable.  She visited a wet market while visiting Kaiping, Guangdong Province, and was exposed to recently slaughtered poultry.

Three other people, a 45-year-old man from Xuancheng and a 43-year-old mother and her 23-year-old son from Ji’an City, contracted H7N9 recently. The man is in critical condition, while the mother and son are stable.

Another case was reported in the Hubei Province with the H5N6 strain. A 35-year-old man checked into the hospital on April 12 and is in critical condition.

Other than the 81-year-old woman, it is unknown how these people were exposed.  However, wet markets, where live or recently slaughtered poultry are sold, are prime suspects, particularly in cities where inhabitants are rarely in contact with farm animals.

The difficulty of controlling exposure in wet markets is well known.  In February 2015, positive tests for H7N9 caused Guangzhou to ban live poultry from wet markets for five days.  The ban was ineffective, as sellers illegally sold birds outside the market or in private homes and apartments.

Buyers cooperate, as they want freshly slaughtered animals and often disbelieve the warnings that have been issued by the government.  The Chinese government needs to increase awareness of the dangers of avian influenza for the poorest segments of the population, who may have limited internet access and poor reading skills.

81-year-old woman

45-year-old man

Mother and son cases

H5N6 case

2015 ban



Portfolio Website and Introductory Video


Home Page Photo of Rachel Higgins (by Rachel Higgins and relatives)

Last week, I worked on and completed the first version of my portfolio website and introductory video.  It focuses on my media experience and it lists my writing and multimedia examples, internship experience and resume.

The main challenge when creating the website was keeping it professional, while at the same time visually appealing.  For this blog, I used lilac and blue-green as theme colors, but I toned it down by using basic black and white for the portfolio.  In addition, I gave it a static home page as the front page rather than the blog page and removed the blogging option entirely.

Other differences include having only a “search” bar, archives and contact info as widgets.  However, one key similarity is the pictures I used with blog posts, as their exclusion made the website seem too plain.

Although the website did not take that long to put together, the introductory video was more difficult.  The weekend I decided to film was windy, so my hair was in the way constantly and even with the wireless microphone, some background noise could be heard.  Originally, I had planned to shoot the video outside with Honors College in the background, but I changed the location to inside the Seretean Performing Arts Center.

The Seretean is one of my favorite places on campus because of the performances and events like the Autumn Arts Gala.  It also has  a calm, dignified atmosphere and is relatively quiet, which is why I decided to film there.

The filming itself took between three and four hours, as I had difficulty speaking in front of the camera.  I usually would either forget part of the script or mispronounce a word. When I finally obtained the footage I needed, most of my work was done and I was relieved.

Portfolio Website

Upcoming Avian Influenza Season


Poultry on family farms could be exposed because of only having bars between them and the wild birds (via Flickr/Joshua Berry).

In 2015, the first case of avian influenza was reported in April.  This year, agricultural specialists are on high alert and want to prevent the disaster of last year.  In one of the worst animal epidemics in recent years, 7.5 million turkeys and 42.1 million chickens died and taxpayers lost $950 million.

This Spring, wild waterfowl are expected to pass through the U.S. on their annual migration route back from the Southern Hemisphere.  Government officials, industry leaders and farmers are working to tighten biosecurity measures before their arrival.

Some measures taken in Iowa, the epicenter of last year’s epidemic, include installing showers near the barns, requiring clothing changes and closing the barns to visitors.  The farmers will also watch for symptoms of avian influenza, such as lethargy, decreased water intake and more birds dying suddenly.  Despite this, contamination could still occur because completely preventing exposure from the outside is impossible.

Dust containing feces from wild birds is widespread, and in areas where biosecurity measures are not enforced or when workers choose not to follow procedures, outbreaks are likely to occur.  However, preventing an outbreak from spreading to other farms should be easier this year because state agricultural departments are more prepared.  They have taken measures to prevent the disaster of last year from reoccurring and plan to do everything in their power to take control of avian influenza epidemics this year.

Avian Influenza Season

Recruitment Video for Oklahoma State University


Boone Pickens Stadium (via Flickr/thecollegerag)

OSU is a high-quality university and it was easy to find things to brag about for my video.  I ended up filming areas that never made it to the final cut, such as the sororities, downtown Stillwater and the Seretean Performing Arts Center. However, since it was impossible to fit everything into a two-minute video, I had to decide what I thought was most impressive.

OSU’s advantages for undergraduates interested in research include Edmon Low Library and scholarships such as the Wentz.  However, for incoming freshmen, the best program is the Freshman Research Scholars, which helps students find a faculty mentor, develop and present a project and awards them a $1,000 scholarship.  Edmon Low Library and the Freshman Research Scholars program were obviously important to include, along with the Honors College, to attract the academically-oriented students.

For students interested in social activities, I wanted to make it clear that not only are there a lot of clubs but also that students can easily form their own. Stillwater is a small town that may come off as boring to some, but I think emphasizing that clubs can provide fun activities helps diminish that disadvantage.  In addition, I wanted to bring up the Student Union as the hub of activity so interested students could see the place they are likely to spend time with friends.

Finally, I wanted students to know that OSU has places to exercise and relax, so I included the Colvin Center and Theta Pond.  One thing I did not include was the sororities and fraternities.

Fraternities have been accused of everything from racism to date rape recently, with OSU having an incident with the confederate flag.  Therefore, I decided not to bring up fraternities, as I feel some high school students would view them as a disadvantage.

OSU Website

Photo License