China reports another death from H7N9 bird flu (Update)

April 3, 2013 by Bill Savadove

A man in the Chinese province of Zhejiang has died of the H7N9 strain of bird flu, state media said Wednesday, bringing the total deaths attributed to the virus to three since the first human cases.

He was one of two H7N9 avian influenza infections reported in Zhejiang in eastern China, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing local authorities, bringing the country's total number of cases to nine.

Chinese authorities are trying to determine how exactly the new variety of bird flu infected people, but say there is no evidence yet of human-to-human transmission.

The latest fatality was a 38-year-old man who worked as a chef, media website Zhejiang Online said. The province's other case was a 67-year-old retiree who was being treated in hospital.

Two other deaths have been reported, both in China's commercial hub of Shanghai. Other cases have occurred in the eastern provinces of Jiangsu and Anhui, the government has said.

The World Health Organisation on Wednesday said the number of cases of the infection looks set to climb, but a pandemic is not on the cards.

"Given the fact that we've seen seven confirmed cases, plus there are reports of other cases, it would not be surprising to see additional cases," said Gregory Hartl, spokesman of the WHO's influenza and epidemics division.

"But these would be additional cases, one by one. We have no evidence so far of human-to-human transmission, and without human-to-human transmission, the likelihood or risk of pandemic is low," he told reporters.

"We're a long way away from thinking about a pandemic," he added.

Malik Peiris, Chair Professor of the Virology School of Public Health at the University of Hong Kong, said identifying the source of the virus was urgent.

"If one can identify that, then you have possible interventions to reduce human exposure and ideally to stamp out the virus in that particular poultry reservoir," he told AFP.

China's neighbour Vietnam has announced an immediate ban on all Chinese poultry imports and stepped up border controls in response to the outbreak.

Hanoi has imposed the ban to "actively and efficiently prevent the intrusion of the H7N9 virus into Vietnam", according to an urgent message signed by the Minister of Agriculture Cao Duc Phat.

Taiwan, which is separated from mainland China by a narrow strait, said Wednesday it had raised its level of alert and set up a group tasked with preparing to prevent a possible epidemic.

In Shanghai, where two people have died from the virus, some residents expressed worries over eating poultry.

"I'll stop buying chickens for the moment and wait until the situation eases," said a middle-aged woman at a traditional food market.

Shanghai officials have assured people that the city's chicken and pork are safe to eat, after the H7N9 cases and the recovery of more than 16,000 dead pigs from the city's main river last month, but many are unconvinced.

China is considered one of the countries at greater risk from bird flu because it is one of the world's biggest poultry producers and many chickens in rural areas are kept close to humans.

The more common strain of avian flu, H5N1, has killed more than 360 people globally from 2003 until March 12 this year, according to the World Health Organization.

Explore further: China reports bird flu outbreak

Related Stories

China reports bird flu outbreak

April 18, 2012

Agricultural authorities in northwest China have culled about 95,000 chickens after an outbreak of the H5N1 bird flu virus, state press reported Wednesday.

Two in China first known deaths from H7N9 bird flu

March 31, 2013

Two Shanghai men have died from a lesser-known type of bird flu in the first known human deaths from the strain, and Chinese authorities said Sunday that it wasn't clear how they were infected, but that there was no evidence ...

WHO plays down China bird flu fears

April 2, 2013

The World Health Organisation on Tuesday played down fears over a strain of bird flu which has killed two people in China, but said it was crucial to find out how the virus infected humans.

Shanghai raises flu response with emergency plan (Update)

April 2, 2013

China's financial capital, Shanghai, activated an emergency plan Tuesday that calls for heightened monitoring of suspicious flu cases following the recent deaths of two men from a lesser-known strain of bird flu.

Recommended for you

Team makes Zika drug breakthrough

August 29, 2016

A team of researchers from Florida State University, Johns Hopkins University and the National Institutes of Health has found existing drug compounds that can both stop Zika from replicating in the body and from damaging ...

Zika virus may persist in the vagina days after infection

August 25, 2016

The Zika virus reproduces in the vaginal tissue of pregnant mice several days after infection, according to a study by Yale researchers. From the genitals, the virus spreads and infects the fetal brain, impairing fetal development. ...

In sub-Saharan Africa, cancer can be an infectious disease

August 26, 2016

In 1963, Irish surgeon Denis Parson Burkitt airmailed samples of an unusual jaw tumor found in Ugandan children to his colleague, Anthony Epstein, at Middlesex Hospital in London. Epstein, an expert in chicken viruses and ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.