January worst month in China's human H7N9 outbreak

February 10, 2014

A total of 31 people died from H7N9 bird flu in mainland China in January, the government announced Monday, making it by far the worst month in the outbreak.

There were a total of 127 confirmed human H7N9 cases in January, according to a statement by the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC).

The number is almost as high as for the whole of last year, when China had 144 confirmed cases including 46 deaths.

Flu viruses are seasonal and the first human cases emerged in February 2013, so that the outbreak did not encompass all of last winter.

It has reignited fears that a could mutate to become easily transmissible between people, threatening to trigger a pandemic.

But NHFPC spokesman Yao Hongwen told a press conference: "So far the features of human infection of the H7N9 bird flu have not had obvious changes and most cases remained sporadic.

"Our monitoring has not found any... mutation in the virus and the way the virus spreads remains poultry-to-human."

The World Health Organisation also says there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission.

Chinese researchers are developing vaccines for the disease and one has passed a safety test on animals, Yao added.

But according to reports clinical trials in humans have yet to begin.

According to an AFP tally of local government announcements, so far there have been at least 180 cases reported this year, including 33 deaths.

Zhejiang province in the east and the southern province of Guangdong are the worst affected, reporting 77 cases and 54 so far respectively, the tally showed.

China's traditional and popular live poultry trade should be replaced by frozen meat distribution to reduce the risk of H7N9 bird flu infection, said Shu Yuelong, director of China's national flu centre.

Live poultry markets are common in China and elsewhere in Asia, and present an ideal environment for virus spread between birds kept together in very high concentrations.

Zhejiang has said that such facilities will be closed in the province's and affected smaller towns for three months by February 15, and permanently in major cities from July 1.

Related Stories

China reports new H7N9 bird flu death

January 17, 2014

China has reported a new death from the H7N9 bird flu virus, state media said Friday, bringing the toll this year to at least four as the disease returns following its 2013 outbreak.

Shanghai reports two deaths in China bird flu outbreak

January 20, 2014

Two people have died from the H7N9 strain of bird flu in China's commercial hub Shanghai, including a medical doctor, the local government said Monday, the city's first fatalities from the virus this year.

China 'downgrades' H7N9 bird flu description (Update)

January 27, 2014

China has reportedly downgraded H7N9 bird flu in humans, dropping its description as "infectious" in new guidelines on how to deal with the disease, even as new cases spike with the onset of winter.

Recommended for you

Experimental MERS vaccine shows promise in animal studies

July 28, 2015

A two-step regimen of experimental vaccines against Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) prompted immune responses in mice and rhesus macaques, report National Institutes of Health scientists who designed the vaccines. ...

Can social isolation fuel epidemics?

July 21, 2015

Conventional wisdom has it that the more people stay within their own social groups and avoid others, the less likely it is small disease outbreaks turn into full-blown epidemics. But the conventional wisdom is wrong, according ...

Lack of knowledge on animal disease leaves humans at risk

July 20, 2015

Researchers from the University of Sydney have painted the most detailed picture to date of major infectious diseases shared between wildlife and livestock, and found a huge gap in knowledge about diseases which could spread ...

IBD genetically similar in Europeans and non-Europeans

July 20, 2015

The first genetic study of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to include individuals from diverse populations has shown that the regions of the genome underlying the disease are consistent around the world. This study, conducted ...

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.