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Avian flu cases in China

on Thu, 04/04/2013 - 17:15

Seven cases of human infection with influenza A(H7N9) virus have been reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) by the China Health and Family Planning Commission. The first three cases – two from Shanghai and one from Anhui province – were notified on 31 March 2013, after being laboratory confirmed two days before by China CDC. Two of them died, while the third is in critical condition. Four other cases from Jiangsu province have been reported on 3 April 2013, with no links between them. They are all in critical conditions and their close contacts, more than 160 persons, are being closely monitored.
The influenza A(H7N9) virus is part of the group of H7 viruses, which normally circulate among birds. These reported in China are the first known cases of human infections with H7N9 viruses. Main symptoms were fever, cough and shortness of breath, and all the patients had sever pneumonia. It is still not clear how these persons became infected; some of them had contact with animals but, until now, no sign of the virus has been found in animals. Thus far, there is no evidence of ongoing human-to-human transmission.
No vaccine is currently available for this subtype of the influenza virus and preliminary tests seem to suggest its susceptibility to the neuraminidase inhibitors. However, there is no experience with the use of these drugs for the treatment of A(H7N9) infection.
The Chinese government and the WHO recommend the population to maintain good personal hygiene, including frequent handwashing and avoiding direct contact with sick or dead animals. At the moment, no travel or trade restrictions have been suggested.


WHO FAQs on the influenza A(H7N9) virus: