China H7N9 cases rise to 91; WHO says no human-to-human spread
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Last Updated: Friday, April 19, 2013, 19:57
  
Beijing: China on Friday reported four more cases of the H7N9 bird flu, taking the total number of infections to 91 while the WHO said there is no evidence of human-to-human transmission.

The number of total infection rose to 91 with four more cases reported in Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, state television reported.

Death toll stood at 17 so far.

Meanwhile, WHO experts are inspecting Chinese regions that have been hit by the H7N9 avian influenza.

A WHO statement said it has cooperated closely with the Chinese health departments since the first H7N9 case was reported on March 31, raising concern worldwide as it was the first time the H7N9 strain of bird flu infected humans.

"There is no indication thus far that it can be transmitted between people, but both animal-to-human and human-to-human routes of transmission are being actively investigated," the statement said.

WHO's China representative Michael O'Leary also said human-to-human transmission was rare.

"As the investigation gets deeper we're finding that more than half have had no contact with poultry", O'Leary said.

"It's hard to definitively rule in or rule out chickens. This is still an animal virus that occasionally infects humans. With rare exceptions, we know that people are not getting sick from other people," he said.

O'Leary said investigators had tested 80,000 birds for the flu, but only 40 tested positive and none of those was sick.

"This is unusual in that we haven't been finding sick birds," he said.

The expert team, which is visiting the areas consisted of Chinese and foreign experts in epidemiology and clinical management, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The team members will survey labs, hospitals, clinics, markets and sites where infections were reported in Beijing and Shanghai, as well as familiarise themselves with China's prevention and control methods.

The commission said the experts will offer suggestions on controlling the virus, as well as issue an initial inspection report on April 24.

Reacting for the for the first time to the new bird flu crisis, China's new President Xi Jinping asked the officials to take effective measures to contain its spread.

Local authorities should prioritise public safety and health, as well as strengthen disease control and prevention, the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) said in a statement.

Areas that have experienced human H7N9 infections should prioritise treating patients and make every effort to reduce deaths from the disease, Xi said. At present, human infections have been found in six provincial-level regions in China, including Beijing and Shanghai municipalities and the provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Anhui and Henan.

Xi also called for efforts to conduct epidemiological studies of the disease, strictly control infection sources, promote public awareness of disease prevention and accelerate the development of vaccines.

The country will boost checks of live poultry and poultry products to ensure food safety, he said.

The government should also release accurate information about the disease to maintain order, Xi said.

Also, China has sent samples of the H7N9 bird flu virus to Taiwan for its study and research as concerns of the outbreak of the bird flu there.

Meanwhile, officials said hundreds of pigs and dogs that were found dead in a village in central China's Henan Province early this week from respiratory failure due to inhaling toxic gas reportedly emitted by a chemical factory in the vicinity.

A total of 410 pigs and 122 dogs were found dead on Monday morning in the village of Dongtun in the city of Yanshi.

A hospital affiliated with the Henan University of Science and Technology said test results showed that the animals died from respiratory failure.

A local medical manufacturing plant has been under investigation for allegedly causing toxic gas leaks.

However, the gas that killed the animals has not been identified and it is unknown whether the plant had any part in their deaths.

Some villagers complained that the factory has been emitting a strong odour for more than ten years.

PTI


First Published: Friday, April 19, 2013, 19:57


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