There seems to be some sort of competition between the Chinese and Egyptian Ministries of Health to see who can obscure their bird flu situation the most effectively, and while Egypt has held the edge for the past several months, China seems to be refining their game.
For the first two waves of H7N9, China won considerable praise both here in Flublogia, and from much of the international community, for their detailed daily updates on H7N9.
Sadly, all that started to end about six months ago (see H7N9: No News Is . . . . Curious), and for the past couple of months we’ve had to content ourselves with minimalistic monthly recaps from China’s NHFPC (see last month’s China Reports 15 H7N9 Cases in May, 7 Deaths).
Sharon Sanders of FluTrackers has posted the latest offering from the NHFPC. Buried deep in an attached table is the only information provided on H7N9; 5 cases and 4 deaths reported in June. Based on previous media reports, Sharon has matched up one of these cases with a case reported in Shanghai last month.
People's Republic of China National Health and Family Planning 2015-07-10
June 2015 (at 0:00 on June 1 to June 30 24), the national (excluding Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, the same below) reported a total of 821,811 cases of legal infectious diseases, died 1487. Among them, the Group of infectious diseases reported incidence of cholera three cases, no deaths have been reported. B infectious diseases SARS, polio, highly pathogenic avian influenza and diphtheria incidence and deaths were reported, the other 22 kinds of infectious diseases were reported incidence of 318,705 cases, 1456 people died, reported incidence among the top five diseases were viral hepatitis, tuberculosis, syphilis, bacillary and amoebic dysentery, scarlet fever, accounting for 89% of the total number of B infectious disease.
Over the same period, the country reported a total of 503,103 cases of Class C infectious diseases, the death of 31 people. Prior to reporting the incidence of the three diseases were hand-foot-mouth disease, other infectious diarrhea and influenza, accounting for 94% of the total reported cases of Class C infectious diseases.
We will almost certainly see some kind of summary update from the World Health Organization on these cases, but even the data they have been providing is but a shadow of what we’ve seen in the past. Their last update reached new levels of parsimony, managing to describe 15 new cases, and 7 deaths in less than 100 words.
Onset dates ranged from 19 April to 22 May 2015. Cases ranged in age from 3 to 77 years with a mean age of 48 years. Of these 15 cases, 8 (53%) were male. Every case reported exposure to poultry related environment. No clusters were reported. Cases were reported from seven provinces and municipalities: Anhui (4), Beijing (1), Fujian (1), Hubei (1), Jiangsu (3), Jiangxi (1), and Zhejiang (4).
While `strategic reporting’ during the summer - when there are but a handful of sporadic H7N9 cases – may not seem terribly egregious, it does little to inspire confidence that we’ll get timely information next winter out of China when bird flu viruses are once again expected to proliferate.
As mentioned above, when it comes to repressing outbreak information, Egypt’s MOH is no slouch either. For more on their efforts to downplay their record-setting H5N1 outbreak you may wish to revisit Egypt’s Ongoing Silence On H5N1 and More Than One Way to `Contain An Outbreak’.