Beijing, May 19 (EFE).- Badminton, which is very popular in China, has become an indirect victim of the bird flu epidemic that has been affecting the country over the past several months, given that the extensive slaughtering of infected ducks has created a shortage of feathers, an essential raw material for the birdies used in the sport, media reports said Sunday.
Many cases of H7N9 bird flu have been detected at farms in the eastern Chinese provinces of Anhui, Jiangxi and Fujian, which are the main suppliers of the duck feathers used by national badminton birdie manufacturers, a situation that has resulted in price increases for the feathers of up to 40 percent after millions of birds have been slaughtered and burned.
As a consequence, the processors of feathers around the country have seen their profits reduced, and in turn some have raised their birdie prices by 10 or 20 percent and may have to increase their feather imports if the health crisis continues, China Daily said.
The H7N9 bird flu has infected 131 people, of whom 36 have died, and the World Health Organization has warned about the danger of the new strain because of the possibility that a mutation may allow it to be transferred among humans.
Badminton, along with table tennis, is one of the most popular sports in China and it is estimated that some 90 million Chinese play it avidly.
The Chinese manufacturers of birdies - also known as shuttlecocks - turn out 1.92 billion of them each year.
China is the current dominating sports power in badminton and in the recent London Olympic Games it won all the gold medals awarded in the sport.