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Posts tagged ‘H7N9’

H7N9 bird flu comes home to roost in China

A woman with organic eggs that she is banned from selling at a market closed due to an outbreak of H7N9 bird flu in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, February 17, 2014 – by Mark Ralston

The handful of poultry dealers lingering at Chengbei Market have had little to do since Chinese authorities shut down their livelihoods after H7N9 bird flu began stalking the country again, killing scores of people this year.

They spend their days counting the losses to their business, gambling at cards and cleaning the cages which once held thousands of live birds, hoping the government will allow the trade to resume.

“The chickens lay every day and I can’t sell the eggs. We are losing money,” said Li Guiying, local boss of the Xuancheng Shandi Poultry Co.

H7N9 avian influenza has returned to China with a vengeance, sickening 226 people and killing 72 so far this year, as the government girds for what is likely to be a long battle to contain what one World Health Organization (WHO) official has labelled an “epidemic”.

China has responded by aggressively closing down poultry markets in locations believed to be at threat from the virus, raising an outcry from the agricultural industry and consumers with a taste for freshly slaughtered food.

But in the longer term the government needs to encourage a shift in behaviour of consumers and clean up the nation’s food supply chain, experts say, which has been hit by a series of health safety scandals.

Ultimately, fears exist that the H7N9 virus could mutate and become easily passed between people, rampaging through the world’s most populous country and crossing its borders to spread around the planet.

After subsiding following the first outbreak early last year, H7N9 resurfaced in the autumn, then boomed. The figures for the first two months of the year exceed the tallies of 144 infections and 46 deaths for the whole of 2013.

The WHO and Chinese authorities maintain there is no evidence of “sustained” human transmission with H7N9, though there have been cases of family members in close contact infecting each other.

But they acknowledge a seasonal spike in cases, possibly caused by the affinity of the virus for colder temperatures and humans’ greater susceptibility to illness in winter.

“The big question always is, ‘does it go down as the season goes away or does it continue?'” said the WHO Representative in China, Bernhard Schwartländer.

“We seem to start seeing a decrease again, which confirms the seasonal patterns, but there is of course no reason and no space to relax,” he said.

– ‘Chickens can’t talk’ –

Poultry dealers accuse the government of shutting the markets without scientific evidence and demand compensation for the birds they were forced to slaughter or sell at rock-bottom prices.

“Chickens can’t talk. Ducks can’t talk. We don’t know where bird flu came from: chickens, ducks or other birds,” said Li, at the Chengbei market in Hangzhou.

Authorities in the city, capital of the eastern province of Zhejiang, the centre of the current outbreak, shut down the market in January. The province has announced radical plans to ban — forever — all live poultry trading in urban areas, according to state media, and replace it with factory-slaughtered and frozen meat.

China’s National Poultry Industry Association estimates the sector has lost more than $3.0 billion so far this year, on top of the impact of the outbreak last year as consumers shunned fowl and markets stopped business.

“Within the industry we call it a devastating hit, a crowning calamity. With our backs to the wall, it seems one cannot adequately depict the severity of the situation,” said the association’s secretary general Gong Guifen.

“The selling of frozen chicken is more like an emergency response, whereas the industry as well as the public’s consumption habits cannot be changed overnight,” she said.

But poultry market closures were the most important measure to contain the virus, said WHO’s Regional Director for the Western Pacific Shin Young-soo.

“Of course, I think the Chinese government should consider many other things. This has a huge impact on our daily life… on farmers, market people,” he said.

In contrast to H5N1, a different strain of avian influenza which affected China earlier, H7N9 is harder to detect because it does not kill the birds that can pass it to humans, he pointed out.

“H7N9 is more difficult because actually the bird and ducks, they’re… not really sick. It’s more difficult to control,” he said.

“It’s very fatal to human beings,” he added. “We know that this virus (is) never going again. It’s coming back.”

via H7N9 bird flu comes home to roost in China – Latest news around the world and developments close to home – MSN Malaysia News.

72 dies from H7N9 bird flu strain in China in first 2 months of 2014


SHANGHAI—A total of 72 people died from the H7N9 bird flu strain in China in the first two months of this year, government figures showed, far more than in the whole of 2013.

China reported 41 deaths and 99 cases of H7N9 avian influenza in February alone, the National Health and Family Planning Commission said in monthly figures for infectious disease, bringing the total cases this year to 226.

The Asian country recorded 46 deaths and 144 cases for 2013 in an outbreak which started early in the year and returned in the autumn.

Chinese officials and the World Health Organization (WHO) say there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission but there have been “family clusters” — involving relatives in close contact apparently infecting each other — since the new strain appeared in people last year.

The virus ignited fears that it could possibly mutate to become easily transmissible between people, which might threaten to trigger a global pandemic.

Experts have pointed to a seasonal rise in cases so far this year, thought to be linked to cold weather.

“It’s largely a seasonal weather change thing and nothing else,” the WHO representative in China, Bernhard Schwartlander, told reporters late last month.

“The virus just likes to be in the cold — it survives more easily. Also in the wintertime the (human) respiratory system is a little bit more fragile,” he said.

China has responded to the current outbreak by clamping down on live poultry markets and stepping up monitoring of people with symptoms associated with the virus.

Last week Hong Kong confirmed its sixth case of H7N9 bird flu, and the special administrative region of China has banned live poultry imports from the mainland in an effort to control the disease.

via 72 dies from H7N9 bird flu strain in China in first 2 months of 2014 – Manila Standard Today.

China reports one more H7N9 death


HEFEI – One more person in China has died from the deadly strain of H7N9 bird flu, health authorities said Sunday.

A 60-year-old man in Jingxian county in the eastern province of Anhui died from the deadly virus on Friday, the Anhui provincial health department announced on Sunday.

The man, surnamed Liu, was confirmed as a H7N9 infection on February 19 and had been under treatment at a hospital in the city of Wuhu.

Anhui has reported five H7N9 infections so far this year. Of the rest four, one has died, another has been cured and the remaining two are still under treatment.

Across the country, the H7N9 strain of bird flu has infected more than 120 people and killed 32 of them so far this year.

via China reports one more H7N9 death – China –

Two new H7N9 cases as experts suggest H9N2 control


Two more H7N9 influenza cases were reported in China today, including the first one from Zhejiang province in 2 weeks, as health groups weighed in with risk assessment updates and experts from China suggested a new way to get a jump on H7N9 and other novel viruses.

The newly confirmed infection from Zhejiang province, which last reported a case on Feb 12, involves a 2-year-old girl who is hospitalized with a mild illness, according to a provincial health department statement translated and posted by FluTrackers, an infectious disease news message board. Zhejiang province has the most H7N9 cases of any in China and has played a pivotal role in both outbreak waves.

The other new case involves a 65-year-old woman from Guangdong province who is hospitalized in critical condition, according to an official statement translated by FluTrackers.

The new cases lift the two-wave H7N9 outbreak total to 373, with 114 as the unofficial number of deaths. So far 237 illnesses have been detected in the outbreak’s second wave, which began in October, compared with 136 in the first wave last spring.

Risk assessment updates

In other developments, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) addressed the H7N9 threat in separate risk assessments.

The ECDC’s assessment came in a broader risk assessment of human avian influenza A infection in China, dated Feb 24. The PHAC posted its updated H7N9 risk assessment today.

The ECDC assessment summarized H7N9 events as of Feb 18, and since then, cases have continued to taper off. However, it said the brisk pace of human infections that marked the second wave might point to a larger wild or domestic bird reservoir, an increase in the number of exposed people, increased transmissibility of the virus, a seasonal pattern, or a combination of factors.

Meanwhile, the PHAC risk assessment update covers H7N9 developments in China through yesterday. The agency noted that poultry and environmental samples have been found in all areas that reported human cases, except for Jilin province and Beijing.

The PHAC noted that, in the second wave, cases appear to be less skewed toward older adults, though more infections continue to be detected in males. Seven pediatric cases were reported in January, three of which involved mild illnesses, and so far no unusual clinical presentations have been reported, the agency said.

So far, the virus doesn’t spread easily among people, though limited person-to-person transmission may occur when there is close contact, the update noted. The H7N9 virus bears close watching, though, because less severe cases have been seen in influenza-like illness surveillance, and the PHAC said it expects more cases to be reported as the flu season progresses.

Experts eye H9N2 control

In scientific developments, researchers from China today suggested that H9N2 avian flu appears to be an “incubator” for flu viruses of wild bird origin and that culling poultry infected with H9N2 might be an effective strategy for curbing the infections in humans. The team published its analysis online inThe Lancet.

They wrote that H7N9, plus H10N8—another novel avian flu virus that recently sickened three people, two fatally in China’s Jiangxi province—have a similar genetic lineage, which includes internal genes from H9N2 viruses in poultry. Reassortment between poultry H9N2 viruses and viruses from wild birds could trigger adaptation to domestic hosts, they observed.

“Poultry, especially in live markets, would have a pivotal role during the emergence of a novel influenza virus of avian origin,” the group wrote.

Since many avian flu viruses in poultry can infect people, it’s impossible to predict the next one that will cause an outbreak in humans, the authors said, so focusing on H9N2 control might allow officials to prevent the next event.

They called on health officials to shutter live-poultry markets or periodically disinfect the establishments in China and other countries that have live-poultry markets.

via Two new H7N9 cases as experts suggest H9N2 control | CIDRAP.

China reports latest death, four new human cases of H7N9


GUANGZHOU: China’s southern province of Guangdong reported one more death and four new human cases of H7N9 infection on Monday, Xinhua news agency reported.

The provincial health department said a 46-year-old woman died in the city of Zhaoqing following a treatment on Sunday.

Two men and two women aged between 33 to 76 infected with the virus are all in critical condition.

China has reported more than 120 human H7N9 cases this year including 32 deaths.–BERNAMA


Read more: China reports latest death, four new human cases of H7N9 – Latest – New Straits Times

via China reports latest death, four new human cases of H7N9 – Latest – New Straits Times.

H7N9: China bird flu total hits 350

Under a high magnification, this negatively-stained transmission electron micrograph (TEM) captured some of the ultrastructural details exhibited by the new influenza A (H7N9) virus.


The Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) is closely monitoring, as of yesterday (February 19), two additional human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) respectively in Foshan and Hunan according to the latest reports of the Mainland health authorities.

The case in Foshan involves a man aged 79 while the case in Hunan is a woman aged 29. They are hospitalised for treatment.

As of yesterday, a total of 350 human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) have been confirmed in the Mainland, including Zhejiang (135 cases), Guangdong (70 cases), Jiangsu (41 cases), Shanghai (41 cases), Fujian (20 cases), Hunan (14 cases), Anhui (eight cases), Jiangxi (six cases), Beijing (four cases), Henan (four cases), Guangxi (three cases), Shandong (twocases), Guizhou (one case, imported from Zhejiang) and Hebei (one case).

In related news, the FAO reported that here is no evidence that human patients infected with influenza A(H7N9), a low pathogenic virus in poultry, can transmit the virus to animals, including birds. This was in reference to the imported H7N9 avian flu case in Malaysia reported last week.

via H7N9: China bird flu total hits 350 – The Global Dispatch.

China reports one H7N9 case, FAO says human illnesses aren’t a threat to poultry


Rusheng Yao / iStockphoto


China reported just one new H7N9 case today, as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said the detection of an imported human case outside of China doesn’t pose a threat to poultry populations.

Human H7N9 cases in China have slowed to a trickle over the past week, but the effects of the outbreak continue to reverberate to the poultry sector, with an eye toward the consequences of disease spread beyond China’s borders.

The new case is in a 79-year-old man from Guangdong province who is hospitalized in stable condition, according to a provincial health ministry report translated and posted by FluTrackers, an infectious disease news message board.

His illness boosts the number of H7N9 infections in the second wave, which started last October, to 223, compared with 136 during the first wave last spring. It also brings the outbreak’s overall total to 359, according to a human case list compiled by FluTrackers.

FAO says no threat to poultry

Meanwhile, the FAO’s statement today was prompted by discovery of the first human H7N9 case outside of China, in a Chinese woman who started having symptoms in her home country before traveling to Malaysia, where she is hospitalized.

The FAO said there is no evidence that humans infected with H7N9 can transmit the virus to animals, including birds. Juan Lubroth, DVM, the FAO’s chief veterinary officer, said in the statement, “This case does not come as a surprise and should not be a cause for increased concern, but should remind the world to remain vigilant.”

“Humans that become ill with influenza A (H7N9) constitute no threat to poultry populations,” he said, adding that evidence of H7N9 transmission from people has not been found for any species, including birds.

The highest risk of virus introduction is from uncontrolled poultry trade between affected and unaffected areas, Lubroth said. He also noted that people become infected after close contact with infected poultry, mainly in live bird markets or when slaughtering birds at home.

Lubroth said imported cases like the one found in Malaysia have been seen in previously unaffected areas of China, such as Guizhou province, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, and further such instances are likely, but so far the virus hasn’t been found in poultry populations outside of China.

The FAO urged countries to adjust their surveillance programs to include the new virus and to target those efforts to critical entry points where direct or indirect live poultry trade with infected areas might occur. It also advised countries to take steps to curb human exposure to zoonotic pathogens, such as introducing or reinforcing biosecurity measures at live bird markets.

No H7 in Hong Kong poultry

In other developments, animal health officials in Hong Kong said today that stepped-up surveillance of local chicken farms has found no H7 viruses, according to a report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

In late January officials detected the virus in a shipment of live chickens that were imported from a registered poultry farm near the Guangdong province city of Foshan, which prompted the temporary closure of an agricultural market and the culling of birds at the site. In response to the finding, Hong Kong also said it would test local birds to ensure that they are free of H7 viruses.

Yesterday Hong Kong announced that the market has reopened, but it kept in place a suspension of live poultry imports.

via China reports one H7N9 case, FAO says human illnesses aren’t a threat to poultry | CIDRAP.

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