Two more die due to bird flu in China; virus traced to pigeons

Two more persons died in China due to H7N9 bird flu, taking death toll from new strain of avian influenza to five in the country even as officials traced the new deadly virus to pigeons in Shanghai.

Updated: Apr 04, 2013, 21:25 PM IST

Beijing: Two more persons on Thursday died in China due to the H7N9 bird flu, taking the death toll from the new strain of avian influenza to five in the country even as officials traced the new deadly virus to pigeons in Shanghai.
Also, the total number of cases of the virulent disease in the country rose to eleven with fresh cases coming to light.

Authorities in Shanghai said that another person has died from H7N9 bird flu, bringing the death toll from the lesser-known strain to five around the country, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Another victim, a 48-year-old man, died of H7N9 bird flu in east China`s Shanghai Municipality today, the third in the municipality and the fourth in the country, the report said.

The man, surnamed Chu and a native of Rugao in Jiangsu Province, was a poultry transporter and developed symptoms of coughing on March 28.

He went to a private clinic following a fever on Monday and then sought help in the Tongji Hospital in Shanghai in the early hours yesterday after his condition worsened but died three hours after being admitted.

He was confirmed to have been infected with the H7N9 virus today. Eight persons who had close contact with him have shown no abnormal symptoms, the report said.

The number of persons infected with the virulent disease in China totalled 11, according to Xinhua, amid rising public concerns as the new strain, discovered in the country in the past few weeks, has no medicine or vaccine to cure it.

China`s agricultural authorities said the infectious H7N9 avian flu virus has been detected from pigeon samples collected at a marketplace in Shanghai.

The samples were collected at a marketplace selling agricultural products in the Songjiang District of Shanghai and tested H7N9 positive by the national avian flu reference laboratory, the Ministry of Agriculture said in a statement.

After gene sequence analysis, the laboratory concluded that the strain of the H7N9 virus found on pigeons was highly congenetic with those found on persons infected with H7N9 virus.

The Ministry has ordered beefed-up monitoring of H7N9 bird flu virus in more areas.

Meanwhile, a man in central China`s Hunan Province died from an H1N1 flu strain.
The 50-year-old, surnamed Zhang, died on Monday after emergency treatment for more than a week failed in Yueyang.

Zhang was admitted to the No. 2 People`s Hospital in Yueyang on March 26 with symptoms of fever and cough. He was later transferred to an intensive care unit after suffering from breathing difficulties but died.

With spread of the deadly H7N9 flu, China`s health authorities have promised transparency and cooperation to the World Health Organization.

The National Health and Family Planning Commission briefed officials from the WHO China office on the latest developments in H7N9 avian influenza infections and the country`s countermeasures, an official statement here said today.

"China will maintain open and transparent exchanges with the WHO and other countries and regions, step up monitoring and adopt proper measures," the statement said.

The WHO said it appreciates China`s cooperation and offered technical support, according to the statement.

The two sides agreed to jointly evaluate the situation and potential risks, it added.

Gregory Hartl, media officer for the WHO, said in Geneva yesterday that given the current evidence, the risk of an epidemic is low, the report said.

So far, all of the infections have been among people from provinces in east China and Shanghai Municipality.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said yesterday that no human-to-human transmission of H7N9 has been discovered and no epidemiological connection between these cases has been found.

The government has advised the Chinese public against slaughtering poultry for ancestral worship on the Tomb-Sweeping Day today in view of the new bird flu.