chapter  4
44 Pages

Are Infl uenzas in Southern China Byproducts of the Region’s Globalizing Historical Present?

ByRobert G. Wallace, Luke Bergmann, Lenny Hogerwerf, Marius Gilbert

Transnational infl uenza Th e emergence of pandemic swine fl u H1N1 in Mexico in 2009 surprised scientists and public health offi cials alike. Over the past decade many had trained their eyes on infl uenzas circulating in East Asia instead, specifi cally in southern China. Th e latter region is currently ground zero for a variety of infl uenza subtypes circulating across livestock and waterfowl. Among them, infl uenza A (H5N1), the bird fl u virus that until this year served as infl uenza’s poster child, fi rst emerged as a highly pathogenic recombinant in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong in 1996. In the decade that followed, H5N1 spread across Eurasia, into Africa, and south to Indonesia, infecting millions of birds and, as of April 2010, 493 humans (World Health Organization, 2010).