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Posts tagged ‘Bird Flu’

Two-year-old Cambodian girl dies of bird flu

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Bird flu typically spreads from birds to humans through direct contact and has killed nearly 400 worldwide since a major outbreak in 2003, according to the WHO. AFP/Mark Ralston

A two-year-old Cambodian girl has died from bird flu, becoming the country’s fourth confirmed fatality — all children — from the deadly virus this year, health authorities said on Monday.

PHNOM PENH: A two-year-old Cambodian girl has died from bird flu, becoming the country’s fourth confirmed fatality — all children — from the deadly virus this year, health authorities said on Monday.

The girl from the southern province of Kampot died on Friday a day after she was admitted to hospital, the health ministry said in a joint statement with the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Tests confirmed she had contracted the H5N1 virus, it said, adding the girl had direct contact with dead chickens in a village where most of the poultry had perished over the last few weeks.

Health Minister Mam Bunheng urged parents to ensure their children do not touch birds.

“Avian influenza H5N1 remains a serious threat to the health of all Cambodians and more so for children,” he said in the statement.

The disease typically spreads from birds to humans through direct contact. But experts fear it could mutate into a form easily transmissible between humans, with the potential to trigger a pandemic.

Authorities have struggled to control bird flu outbreaks in Cambodia. It recorded 14 deaths from the illness last year, the deadliest outbreak of the virus in the country since 2003.

Cambodian children are at particular risk as they often live in close proximity to poultry.

Two boys, aged 3 and 11, died of bird flu earlier this month.

An eight-year-old boy from the eastern province of Kratie died in February. His two-year-old sister died the same day but authorities said tests could not be carried out to confirm she had the virus.

The sickness has killed nearly 400 worldwide since a major outbreak in 2003, according to the WHO.

– AFP/de

via Two-year-old Cambodian girl dies of bird flu – Channel NewsAsia.

Thailand free from bird flu

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BANGKOK, 14 December 2013 (NNT) – The Ministry of Public Health has asserted that Thailand was free from the deadly bird flu virus, while revealing that 139 cases of H7N9 virus had been found in China.

Dr. Sopon Mekthon, Director General of the Disease Control Department, mentioned about the avian influenza A (H7N9), saying 139 cases of bird flu had been found in China, 45 of the number aged between 4 and 87 years old were killed by the disease. Most of the people killed, according to him, suffered from a severe pneumonia before they passed. He however confirmed that there has not been a single proof of a human-to-human infection case.

He went on to say that the virus has yet to be found in Thailand, while urging people who have a high risk of catching the disease to wash their hands regularly and to wear a mask at all times.

The director also suggested people cook poultry in a temperature of at least 70 degrees Celsius and avoid direct contact with live animals.

via สำนักข่่าวแห่งชาติ : Public Health: Thailand free from bird flu.

Hong Kong steps up border health checks over bird flu

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A man (R) weighs a chicken in a poultry market in Hong Kong. (AFP/Philippe Lopez)
Hong Kong authorities have stepped up border health checks after the city reported its first human case of the potentially deadly H7N9 bird flu, officials said on Thursday.

HONG KONG: Hong Kong authorities have stepped up border health checks after the city reported its first human case of the potentially deadly H7N9 bird flu, officials said on Thursday.

Extra health officials have been deployed to carry out random temperature checks at entry points to the southern Chinese city, which already have thermal imaging systems.

The health department has liaised with border officers in the neighbouring mainland China city of Shenzhen to stay alert for travellers and cross-border students with fever or other symptoms, a government spokesman told AFP.

Suspected cases of avian influenza would immediately be referred to public hospitals.

Inspections were being stepped up at all entry points including from Shenzhen.

Hong Kong on Monday announced that a 36-year-old Indonesian helper was its first human case of H7N9.

“She has a history of travelling to Shenzhen, buying a chicken, slaughtering and eating the chicken,” health minister Ko Wing-man said then.

Hong Kong has said that 17 people, mostly relatives of the employer of the domestic helper, will be quarantined.

More than 220 other people are under medical surveillance but not quarantined.

Even though Hong Kong’s health department has contacted authorities in Shenzhen, attitudes towards the virus remain relaxed in the mainland city, media reports said.

Sterilisation measures have been lax in Shenzhen’s wet markets which are still open for business, the South China Morning Post reported.

In all, 137 human cases of H7N9 have been reported in mainland China since February with 45 deaths, according to the World Health Organisation.

– AFP/nd

via Hong Kong steps up border health checks over bird flu – Channel NewsAsia.

Study shows poultry market closures do well to halt bird flu

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A seller is seen feeding chickens and ducks at a poultry market in Guiyang, southwest China\’s Guizhou province. (AFP)

 

Closing live poultry markets, though a huge economic setback, is a sure-fire way of curbing the deadly H7N9 bird flu in case of an outbreak, disease control researchers said Thursday.

PARIS: Closing live poultry markets, though a huge economic setback, is a sure-fire way of curbing the deadly H7N9 bird flu in case of an outbreak, disease control researchers said Thursday.

The closure of 780 live poultry markets (LPMs) in the Chinese cities of Shanghai, Hangzhou, Huzhou and Nanjing in April reduced the daily number of H7N9 infections by more than 97 percent, said a study in The Lancet medical journal.

Most have since reopened, and China is approaching its flu season now.

“Our findings confirm that LPM closure is a highly effective intervention to prevent human disease and protect public health,” study lead author Benjamin Cowling of the University of Hong Kong said in a statement.

“Without this robust evidence, policymakers would struggle to justify further closures of LPMs because of the millennia-old culture of trading live birds and the potential huge economic loss on the poultry industry in China.”

The study said losses associated with the closures in April have been estimated at about 57 billion yuan (about $9 billion/ 7 billion euros).

A total of 137 people have been infected by the virus since February, and 45 have died.

Live poultry markets are common in China and countries like Thailand and Laos, and present an ideal environment for virus spread between birds held together in very high concentrations.

The researchers had collected information about every laboratory-confirmed human case of H7N9 infection in the four cities over several months and constructed a statistical model showing the before-and-after effect of market closure.

The team found the closures reduced the average daily number of infections by 99 percent each in Shanghai and Hangzhou and by 97 percent in Huzhou and Nanjing — and rapidly.

They also looked at the potential effects of other factors like a change in humidity, but found nothing else that could explain the sudden drop.

Cowling said two new cases of H7N9 identified in China’s eastern Zhejiang province this month were of “great concern” — as they showed the virus had continued to circulate and had the potential to cause a new outbreak in the autumn/winter flu season.

The team said local authorities must immediately close poultry markets in affected areas in the case of future outbreaks.

“In view of the potentially huge adverse economic effect of LPM closure, prompt and unanimous support of public health practitioners and clinicians for this necessary intervention will be paramount to protect human health from the… threat of avian influenza A H7N9 virus,” they wrote.

Avian flu viruses have been around for a very long time in wild birds but do not generally cause disease in humans, though in rare cases they mutate and jump species.

Strains of the H5, H7 and H9 avian influenza subtypes have caused human infections, mainly following direct contact with infected poultry. None of the strains have yet mutated to become easily transmissible from person to person — the epidemiologist’s nightmare.

The best-known strain is the H5N1 virus that has caused 633 confirmed flu cases in humans in 15 countries from 2003 to July this year, of whom 377 died — a death rate of about 60 percent.

– AFP/xq

via Study shows poultry market closures do well to halt bird flu – Channel NewsAsia.

Bird Flu’s Return in China Seen Sped by New Year Chicken

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A health worker sprays disinfectant at a poultry farm on April 11, 2013 in Huaibei, China. Human cases of H7N9 were first reported in China in March and spiked in April before agriculture authorities closed live poultry markets to limit human exposure. Photo: ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images

 

The avian flu strain that killed 45 people in Asia last spring is poised to return as poultry flocks swell before Chinese New Year, amplifying the virus that hides undetected in birds.

A 35-year-old man from the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang is in serious condition after being infected with the new H7N9 flu strain, health authorities said this week. It’s the first confirmed human case in two months, according to the World Health Organization in Geneva.

Human cases of H7N9 were first reported in China in March and spiked in April before agriculture authorities temporarily closed live poultry markets to limit human exposure. The WHO counts 136 laboratory-confirmed cases to date. Three patients remain hospitalized and 88 have been discharged, the United Nations health agency said in an Oct. 16 statement.

“If an H7N9 outbreak starts again now it could spread much further in China and infect a large amount of people unless intensive measures are taken to control the outbreak in birds,” said Ben Cowling, an associate professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Hong Kong’s school of public health, in an interview.

The more people who get infected with H7N9, the greater the chances of the virus mutating into a form that spreads more easily among people, Cowling said.

Even though H7N9 hasn’t mutated to become as contagious as seasonal flu, strains that emerge in China are of special interest to researchers. The 1957-58 Asian Flu and 1968-69 Hong Kong Flu pandemics were first identified in the world’s most populous nation, and an earlier bird flu strain known as H5N1 is thought to have come from the southern province of Guangdong in 1996. Years later, a new seasonal flu was found in neighboring Fujian and triggered explosive epidemics worldwide.

Outside China

H7N9 has turned up outside mainland China. In late April, officials in Taiwan reported a case in a 53-year-old man who had just returned to Taiwan via Shanghai after a business trip to the eastern city of Suzhou.

The virus can circulate widely in chickens, ducks and geese without causing the mass die-offs characteristic of the H5N1 bird flu virus. Its stealth has made it difficult to track and contain a germ that’s typically more active during the colder winter months, scientists said.

New Year Threat

“We are just heading into re-emergence in November and December,” said Malik Peiris, a virologist at the University of Hong Kong, who was part of an international team of flu scientists that assisted the Chinese government in April identify how people are catching the new virus. “It will of course peak at Chinese New Year because it’s the time of maximum poultry production.”

Chinese New Year is on Jan. 31 next year.

The latest H7N9 case, a man with the surname Liu, sought medical attention on Oct. 8 and is hospitalized in Shaoxing county, the Zhejiang health bureau said on Oct. 15.

Shanghai began reopening poultry markets on June 20 to cater to residents’ demand for live ducks and chickens, the official Xinhua News Agency reported last month. The Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce lists 102 live-poultry markets on its website. Shanghai’s largest, the Shuidian market in Hongkou district, reopened on Aug. 30 after glass partitions and separate exhaust pipes for areas used to store and slaughter poultry were installed, Xinhuareported on Sept 10.

Call to Cull

Agriculture authorities are counting on the measures to rebuff calls from health officials for mass culling of poultry to eradicate the virus. Doctors studying disease patterns in humans found that infected poultry are the principal source of the infections in people.

When the Ministry of Agriculture tested 68,060 samples collected from poultry markets, farms and slaughterhouses, they found only 46 — or 0.07 percent — tested positive for the virus, the official Xinhua news agency reported in April.

When researchers from the University of Hong Kong conducted their own survey based on 1,341 specimens from chickens, ducks and other birds, as well as 1,006 water and fecal samples from bird markets, they found H7 viruses in 60, or 2.6 percent of them, according to a study published in the journal Nature in August.

“There’s competing interests in China between economic development and human health, and there’s continual pressure on these two essentially competing interests at all levels of government,” said Hong Kong University’s Cowling.

Poultry consumers don’t want the markets to close, said Mao Zhenjin, 70, who was buying live chickens at Shanghai’s Yinghua Market on Wednesday to boil with potatoes and taro — a local specialty and one of his granddaughter’s favorite dishes.

‘Taste the Difference’

“You can’t make this soup with frozen chicken because it’s not fresh,” Mao said as he handed over 53 yuan ($8.70) for a 1.5 kilogram (3-pound) chicken. “It’s like buying fish dead for a long time — you can taste the difference.”

Six percent of blood specimens from 396 poultry workers in China were found to have antibodies against H7N9, according to a Sept. 18 report in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. That suggests dozens of people in contact with farmed birds have been exposed to the virus without necessarily getting sick. None of the 1,129 people from the general population had H7N9 antibodies.

“The data support the conclusion that influenza A(H7N9), or a closely related virus, is circulating in live poultry markets and that infected poultry is the principal source for human infections,” wrote the authors, who included researchers from Zhejiang University’s First Affiliated Hospital.

Cooler weather will enable viral particles to remain viable for longer in the environment, such as in the air, on surfaces or in water, Cowling said.

Death by Suffocation

In its severest form, the new strain damages the lungs so badly that it causes suffocation even as other vital organs rapidly shut down, doctors in Shanghai reported in April.

While laboratory experiments using ferrets — the most-common animal model for human flu infections — showed the virus is capable of spreading from person to person, the WHO said this week that there is no evidence of sustainable human-to-human transmission so far.

Cases reported to the WHO may represent “the tip of the iceberg,” the University of Hong Kong’s Peiris said in an interview.

In 2009, a novel flu virus known as H1N1 that evolved in pigs touched off the first influenza pandemic in 41 years. The H5N1 bird flu strain, which killed at least 380 people over the past decade, hasn’t acquired the ability to spread easily among people.

If H7N9 starts spreading easily from human to human, “then it’s a different ball game,” he said. “From all the evidence we have this could be much more serious than H1N1 was: looking at human lung tissue experimental studies — seasonal flu grows on it like a weed, H5N1 really struggles, and H7N9 grows like a bomb.”

via Bird Flu’s Return in China Seen Sped by New Year Chicken – Bloomberg.

Bird flu strain in China ‘passed between humans’

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There have been more than 130 cases of bird flu in eastern China

 

Researchers have reported the first case of human-to-human transmission of the new strain of bird flu that has emerged in China.

The British Medical Journal said a 32-year-old woman was infected after caring for her father. Both later died.

Until now there had been no evidence of anyone catching the H7N9 virus other than after direct contact with birds.

But experts stressed it does not mean the virus has developed the ability to spread easily between humans.

By 30 June there had been 133 cases of H7N9 bird flu reported in eastern China and 43 deaths.

Most people had visited live poultry markets or had close contact with live poultry in the week or two before they became ill.

Intensive care

Yet researchers found that the 32-year-old woman had become infected in March after caring for her 60-year-old father in hospital.

Unlike her father – who had visited a poultry market in the week before falling ill – she had no known exposure to live poultry but fell ill six days after her last contact with him.

Both died in intensive care of multiple organ failure.

Tests on the virus taken from both patients showed the strains were almost genetically identical, which supports the theory that the daughter was infected directly from her father rather than another source.

Public health officials tested 43 close contacts of the patients but all tested negative for H7N9, suggesting the ability of the virus to spread was limited.

The researchers said that while there was no evidence to suggest the virus had gained the ability to spread from person to person efficiently, this was the first case of a “probable transmission” from human to human.

‘Strong warning sign’

“Our findings reinforce that the novel virus possesses the potential for pandemic spread,” they concluded.

Dr James Rudge, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said that limited transmission between humans is not surprising and has been seen before in other bird flu viruses, such as H5N1.

He added: “It would be a worry if we start to see longer chains of transmission between people, when one person infects someone else, who in turn infects more people, and so on.

“And particularly if each infected case goes on to infect, on average, more than one other person, this would be a strong warning sign that we might be in the early stages of an epidemic.”

An accompanying editorial in the BMJ, co-authored by Dr Rudge, concluded that while this study might not suggest that H7N9 is any closer to delivering the next pandemic, “it does provide a timely reminder of the need to remain extremely vigilant”.

via BBC News – Bird flu strain in China ‘passed between humans’.

First likely case of H7N9 bird flu spread by humans reported

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A chicken is displayed at an outdoor market in China’s southwest Guizhou province (AFP/Peter Parks)

Chinese scientists on Wednesday reported the first likely case of direct person-to-person transmission of the H7N9 bird flu virus that has killed over 40 people since March.

PARIS, France: Chinese scientists on Wednesday reported the first likely case of direct person-to-person transmission of the H7N9 bird flu virus that has killed over 40 people since March.

The development was “worrying” and should be closely watched, the team wrote in the British online journal bmj.com, but stressed that the virus, believed to jump from birds to people, was still inadept at spreading among humans.

“People should not panic,” epidemiologist Chang-jun Bao of the hard-hit Jiangsu province’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told AFP of the report that he co-authored.

“The transmissibility of this novel virus… was not so effective.”

Scientists have long feared the virus would mutate into a form that transmits easily from person to person.

In the new study, Bao and a team report on the case of a 60-year-old man who died in hospital after contracting the H7N9 virus, which he apparently transmitted to his daughter.

The 32-year-old woman, who had nursed her father for over a week, also died in hospital.

She had had no access to potentially infected poultry, leading investigators to conclude that the “most likely explanation” for her illness was direct virus transmission from her father, who had regularly visited live poultry markets.

“Aside from the exposure to her father’s respiratory secretions during her bedside care, the daughter had no definite exposure to poultry or other suspect sources of infection,” said Bao.

Genetic tests of virus samples from the two patients also revealed they were “almost identical”.

Despite this apparent evidence of direct transmission, the virus’s transmissibility remained “limited and non-sustainable,” said the paper. None of 43 other people who had had close contact with the two patients, including hospital staff, contracted the virus.

“These findings suggest that potential genetic susceptibility might be one of the determinants and that avian influenza viruses… are more easily transmitted between individuals with genetic connection,” said the paper.

The scientists noted they had been unable to interview the two critically ill patients and could not definitively rule out the possibility that the daughter picked up the virus somewhere else, although this seemed “less likely”.

Official figures released last month said the H7N9 virus had made 132 people ill in mainland China since the first human cases were reported in March, of which 43 died. One case was recorded in Taiwan.

A study in June warned that a lull in new infections may lift in the autumn.

The results of a lab study published in the US journal Science in May showed the H7N9 strain can spread among mammals, specifically ferrets, and could do the same between humans under certain conditions.

H7 influenza viruses comprise a group that normally circulate among birds, of which H7N9 forms a subgroup that had never been found in humans until the Chinese outbreak.

Commenting on the paper in a BMJ editorial, researchers James Rudge and Richard Coker of the Communicable Diseases Policy Research Group in Thailand said it provided the “strongest evidence yet” of H7N9 transmission between humans.

“Does this imply that H7N9 has come one step closer towards adapting fully to humans? Probably not,” they wrote.

Odd cases of human-to-human transmission had also been reported in other bird flu types like H5N1 and H7N7 – none of which has mutated into an easily spreadable form, and so to see it in H7N9 was not surprising.

“While the paper… might not suggest that H7N9 is any closer to delivering the next pandemic, it does provide a timely reminder of the need to remain extremely vigilant: the threat posed by H7N9 has by no means passed,” said Rudge and Coker.

Peter Horby, senior fellow at Oxford University’s Clinical Research Unit in Hanoi, Vietnam, agreed that limited human-to-human transmission “does not necessarily represent the early stages of a trajectory towards full adaptation to humans”.

– AFP/de

via First likely case of H7N9 bird flu spread by humans reported – Channel NewsAsia.

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