China strengthens checks after new bird flu deaths (Update)

April 1, 2013 by Bill Savadove

China's commercial hub Shanghai is stepping up monitoring after a new strain of bird flu killed two people, state media said Monday, as Taiwan announced it would screen travellers from the mainland.

The government's National Health and Family Planning Commission said over the weekend that two men, aged 87 and 27, died in Shanghai in early March after being infected with H7N9 avian influenza.

A 35-year-old woman in the eastern province of Anhui, near Shanghai, was in critical condition after developing the sub-type which had not previously been transmitted to humans, it said.

Shanghai's health bureau has ordered hospitals to strengthen monitoring and supervision of respiratory illness cases, but authorities were unsure how the three became infected, the Shanghai Daily newspaper said on Monday.

The two victims in the city both had histories of chronic illness, said a statement from Shanghai's health bureau, without giving details.

None of their family or close associates had become infected with H7N9, although two sons of the elderly man both had respiratory illnesses around the same time and one of them died.

The woman from Anhui had contact with birds, while the younger man in Shanghai worked butchering and selling meat, the state-backed Health News said on its website on Monday, suggesting a route for transmission.

Some Internet users reacted with anger that the announcement came three weeks after the second man died, but authorities said time was needed to verify the new strain.

"Delaying the release of such information is gambling with people's lives," said a microblog post under the name Fenhu Kuaidi.

But Michael O'Leary, China representative for the World Health Organisation (WHO), said Beijing had reported the cases in a "timely" manner, having only definitely identified the virus on Friday.

"The question is whether the virus will mutate to become more infectious, human to human," he said. "There is no evidence of that at this time but viruses change all the time."

Taiwan, which saw 2.6 million Chinese visitors last year, said passengers from the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau must now pass a mandatory temperature check on arrival at its airports.

Taiwan residents who develop fevers with 10 days of travelling to China would also be required to undergo further health checks at hospitals, the island's disease control centre said late Sunday.

Hong Kong also said it would step up surveillance.

"We will heighten our vigilance and continue to maintain stringent port health measures in connection with this development," a spokesman for the city's Centre for Health Protection said.

One Chinese expert played down the threat from the new strain.

"So far, it is still an animal virus, not a human virus," the Shanghai Daily quoted Jiang Qingwu, head of the school of public health at Fudan University, as saying.

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

China reported two deaths from H5N1 in the southwestern province of Guizhou in February, the country's first cases so far this year.

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

Explore further: Two in China first known deaths from H7N9 bird flu

Related Stories

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 ...

China reports year's second fatal case of bird flu

February 23, 2013
A man in southwestern China has died of bird flu, health authorities said Saturday, becoming the second fatality from the H5N1 virus this year.

Chinese man critical with bird flu

December 30, 2011
A man is in critical condition after testing positive for the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, state media said Saturday.

Cambodian girl, 10, dies from bird flu: WHO

May 28, 2012
A 10-year-old Cambodian girl has died from bird flu, the World Health Organization said Monday, the country's third fatality from the virulent disease this year.

Cambodian girl dies from bird flu: WHO

April 2, 2012
A six-year-old Cambodian girl has died from bird flu, the World Health Organization said Monday, in the country's second fatality from the virus this year.

Man dies from bird flu in southern China

December 31, 2011
A bus driver in southern China who contracted the bird flu virus died Saturday, health authorities said, in the nation's first reported human case of the deadly disease in 18 months.

Recommended for you

Flu infection study increases understanding of natural immunity

January 23, 2018
People with higher levels of antibodies against the stem portion of the influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) protein have less viral shedding when they get the flu, but do not have fewer or less severe signs of illness, according ...

New long-acting approach for malaria therapy developed

January 22, 2018
A new study, published in Nature Communications, conducted by the University of Liverpool and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine highlights a new 'long acting' medicine for the prevention of malaria.

Virus shown to be likely cause of mystery polio-like illness

January 22, 2018
A major review by UNSW researchers has identified strong evidence that a virus called Enterovirus D68 is the cause of a mystery polio-like illness that has paralysed children in the US, Canada and Europe.

Creation of synthetic horsepox virus could lead to more effective smallpox vaccine

January 19, 2018
UAlberta researchers created a new synthetic virus that could lead to the development of a more effective vaccine against smallpox. The discovery demonstrates how techniques based on the use of synthetic DNA can be used to ...

Study ends debate over role of steroids in treating septic shock

January 19, 2018
The results from the largest ever study of septic shock could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

New approach could help curtail hospitalizations due to influenza infection

January 18, 2018
More than 700,000 Americans were hospitalized due to illnesses associated with the seasonal flu during the 2014-15 flu season, according to federal estimates. A radical new approach to vaccine development at UCLA may help ...

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.