Bird flu toll climbs to 17 in China; total cases goes up to 82

Updated: Apr 17, 2013, 23:51 PM IST

Beijing: China today reported three more deaths due to the deadly bird flu taking the toll to 17 while the number of cases have gone up to 82, amid cheerful news of the discharge of a seven-year-old girl from the hospital after recovering fully from the new H7N9 strain.

The disease caused serious financial losses as sales of live chickens and chicken products have dropped by over 13 billion yuan (about USD 2.1 billion) China Animal Agriculture Association (CAAA) said.

In its daily update, National Health and Family Planning Commission today said the number of H7N9 cases went up to 82.

The death toll too went to 17, it said.

Of the total, five H7N9 patients have been discharged from hospitals after receiving treatment, and the other 60 patients are being treated in designated hospitals, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Shanghai city reported the highest cases totalling 31, including 11 deaths.

According to the commission, China`s confirmed H7N9 cases are isolated and there has been no sign of human-to-human transmission.

Meanwhile, a seven-year-old girl in Beijing who was infected with H7N9, the first such case in the Chinese capital, was discharged from hospital amid glare of high publicity today.

The girl, surnamed Yao, fully recovered and has tested negative for the H7N9 virus on four occasions, said doctors at the Beijing Ditan Hospital, where the girl was being treated.

She was allowed to leave the hospital after meeting physical condition standards, Xinhua reported.

Her parents, who were under medical observation were also discharged.

Meanwhile, a four-year-old carrying the H7N9 virus in Beijing is in stable condition, and his medical observation will end soon, said Chen Zhihai, director of the hospital`s infectious disease department. The boy tested positive but showed no symptoms of the disease.

A team of World Health Organisation has arrived here to step up efforts to contain the spread of the new avian influenza and work out line of treatment as well as finalising vaccine formulation.

Officials, meanwhile, said the death of number of pigs and dogs in a village in China`s central Henan Province on Monday is not due to any animal epidemic or the H7N9 infection.

Some reports said the death were due to gases emitted by chemical factories in the vicinity.

Authorities in Yanshi City said initial investigations have eliminated animal epidemic and H7N9 bird flu.

Also animal infections of the H7N9 avian flu have only been detected in live poultry markets and a single wild pigeon, agricultural authorities said.

Of the 47,801 samples collected from more than 1,000 poultry markets, habitats, farms and slaughterhouses across the country, 39 samples have tested positive for the virus, the Ministry of Agriculture said in a statement.

A wild pigeon tested positive for the virus in Jiangsu.

The virus has not been detected in pigs, the ministry said. The new bird flu is however taking toll on poultry forms with estimated losses amounting to USD 2.1 billion in the last few weeks.

"With no purchases after the H7N9 cases were reported, some farms have had to slaughter their chickens and ducks to avoid further losses," Shi Zhengxiang a farmer told Xinhua.

Shi, 63, is the owner of Hangzhou Shishi Ecological Breeding Co., Ltd., a major producer of poultry, with annual production of over 100,000 chickens and 70 tonnes of eggs, in China`s eastern Zhejiang Province.

But since the H7N9 avian flu arrived in April, Shi`s farm has had no customers as live poultry markets have closed and live poultry trading has been banned in some major cities.

Sales of live chickens and chicken products have dropped by about USD 2.1 billion, CAAA said.