UPDATE: I’ve now posted a A Brief History Of H7 Avian Flu Infections
An unusual story has emerged overnight out of China, where two people who died recently in Shanghai have been diagnosed with the avian H7N9 virus – the first time this normally low pathogenic avian has been known to jump to humans.
A third case, in Anhui Province, is reportedly in critical condition. Thus far, no epidemiological links are apparent between these cases.
Two stories: First the Xinhua News account, followed by Hong Kong’s CHP announcement.
English.news.cn 2013-03-31 13:50:18
BEIJING, March 31 (Xinhua) -- Three cases of human infection with H7N9 avian influenza have been detected recently in Shanghai and Anhui Province, and two of them have died, the other being in a critical condition, the National Health and Family Planning Commission said Sunday.
The victims include an 87-year-old male in Shanghai who got sick on Feb. 19 and died on March 4, a 27-year-old male in Shanghai who became ill on Feb. 27 and died on March 10, and a 35-year-old female in Chuzhou City of Anhui who became ill on March 9 and is now in a critical condition.
They all showed initial symptoms of fever and coughs which developed into severe pneumonia and difficult breathing in later stages, according to the report.
On Saturday, the three cases were confirmed to be human infection with H7N9 avian influenza by an expert team summoned by the health and family planning commission, based on clinical observation, laboratory tests and epidemiological surveys.
On Friday, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Preservation separated the H7N9 bird flu virus from body samples of the patients.
So far, the commission said, it is unclear how the three got infected, and no mutual infections were discovered among them. Besides, no abnormalities were detected among 88 of their close contacts.
The subtype of H7N9 bird flu virus has not been contracted to human beings before. The virus shows no signs of being highly contagious among humans, according to the clinical observation on the cases' close contacts.
However, as only three cases of human infection of H7N9 have been found, relatively little research has been done on it. The expert team is working to study the toxicity and human-infection capacity of the virus, according to the commission.
There are no vaccines against the H7N9 bird flu virus either at home or abroad.
And from Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection.
The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health received notification from the National Health and Family Planning Commission (the Commission) today (March 31) concerning three confirmed human cases of influenza A (H7N9).
A CHP spokesman said the two cases in Shanghai were two men aged 87 and 27, who passed away on March 4 and 10 respectively. As regards the case in Anhui, the 35-year-old female patient is now in critical condition.
Laboratory tests on the three patients' specimens by the Mainland health authorities yielded a positive result for H7N9.
According to the Commission, the 27-year-old man was a butcher while the 35-year-old woman had exposure history to poultry before the onset of symptoms. No epidemiological link between the three cases was identified. So far, no abnormality was detected among the 88 close contacts of three cases.
The spokesman said that influenza A (H7) is a statutorily notifiable infectious disease in Hong Kong. The CHP is maintaining close liaison with the Mainland health authorities to obtain more information on the cases.
"We will heighten our vigilance and continue to maintain stringent port health measures in connection with this development," the spokesman said.
The spokesman reminded members of the public to remain vigilant against avian influenza infection and to observe the following measures:
- Avoid direct contact with poultry and birds or their droppings; if contacts have been made, they should wash hands thoroughly with soap and water;
- Poultry and eggs should be thoroughly cooked before eating;
- Wash hands frequently;
- Cover nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing, hold the spit with tissue and put it into covered dustbins;
- Avoid crowded places and contact with sick people with fever;
- Wear a mask when you have respiratory symptoms or need to take care of patients with fever; and
- When you have fever and influenza-like illnesses during a trip or when coming back to Hong Kong, you should consult doctors promptly and reveal your travel history.
For further information on avian influenza, please visit the CHP's website (www.chp.gov.hk).
Ends/Sunday, March 31, 2013
Issued at HKT 13:47