Beijing: China today reported a fourth case of the H7N9 bird flu believed to be a new type of deadly virus that claimed two lives so far, creating anxiety among the health officials about how to deal with the latest avian influenza as there is no vaccine to cure it.
State-run CCTV reported that the fourth case of H7N9 bird flu has been initially confirmed in Nanjing, the capital of east China`s Jiangsu province faraway from Shanghai where two people died earlier while the third one, a woman was seriously ill in Chuzhou City of Anhui province.
The new patient is a 45-year-old woman who slaughters poultry in a local farmers` market. She first detected symptoms of a fever and coughing early last week and then rapidly deteriorated into critical condition.
She is now hospitalised in Nanjing`s Gulou hospital. Though China`s health authority said humans are at a very low risk for contracting the lesser-known H7N9 bird flu, anxieties among public is rising with fears that it could spread as it has no known vaccine or medicine world wide to combat it.
Officials of the Chinese unit of the World Health Organisation (WHO) said they are coordinating with local officials to deal with the problem.
According to WHO, all three cases presented with respiratory tract infection with progression to severe pneumonia and breathing difficulties.
To date no epidemiological link between the cases has been identified. An investigation including follow-up of contacts is ongoing.
So far no further cases have been identified among the 88 identified contacts under follow up, it said.
Investigations into the source of infection and mode of transmission are ongoing. The Chinese government is actively investigating this event and has instituted enhanced surveillance, laboratory strengthening and training of health care professionals for detection, reporting and treatment, it said.
It was not clear how the previous three patients were infected, but there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDCP) said in a statement.
The virulence and transmission capacity of the H7N9 can not be determined due to limited clinical cases and research data on the virus, it said.
The symptoms of the three confirmed cases included typical viral pneumonia, with fever, coughing and other respiratory ailments at the onset.
Patients had difficulty breathing after five to seven days, and the two men died of acute respiratory distress syndrome, according to the statement.
The NHFPC has sent several work groups to Shanghai Municipality and Anhui and Jiangsu provinces to determine the infection source of the flu strain and prevent the disease from spreading.
Meanwhile, Public health authorities in Beijing they are keeping a close eye on the H7N9 bird flu virus that has killed two in east China.
Test reagents for the virus have reached the Chinese capital, where the the deadly SARS epidemic played havoc a decade ago, according to a statement from the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Public Health.
The city, with a population of around 20 million, has added avian influenza into its existing monitoring system for regular influenza and pneumonia without a clear cause.
The statement said all hospitals in Beijing have been asked to brace for emergencies and ensure enough medical supplies although no infection has been reported in the city as of Tuesday, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.