Tuesday, May 7, 2013

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: China's H7N9 Bird Flu Cases Keep Rising - Overall Total Reaches 130, 31 Dead, Mortality Rate Rises To 24%!

May 07, 2013 - CHINA - Health officials in China reported two new H7N9 infections, both from Fujian province, and four more deaths, boosting the outbreak's total to 130 cases, 31 of them (24%) fatal.

One of the patients is a 9-year-old boy whose infection was detected during routine flu surveillance, according to official and media reports today. He has been discharged from the hospital, according to a statement Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection (CHP).

The other patient is a 69-year-old man who is hospitalized, according to a separate statement yesterday from the CHP. So far none of the man's nine close contacts have shown any symptoms.

China's National Health and Family Commission today put the number of deaths at 31, an increase of four since the group's last update, Xinhua, China's state news agency, reported today. The report did not include any other details about the deaths. The report also said 42 patients have recovered from their H7N9 infections.

In other developments, China's agriculture ministry yesterday announced five more poultry and market environmental samples that tested positive for H7N9, according to a report from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). They included three environment samples from a live-bird market in Shandong province, one chicken sample from a live-bird wholesale market in Guangdong province, and one chicken sample from a market in Jiangxi province.

Guangdong is the only province to report a positive bird or market sample in the absence of confirmed human H7N9 cases. It is also the southernmost area of China to report positive H7N9 findings. The OIE report said 89,964 birds were destroyed at the Guangdong wholesale market, which is located in Dongguan.

The health ministry said the H7N9 virus detected in the samples is similar to that found in a pigeon collected from a market in Shanghai in early April, Xinhua reported yesterday.

Meanwhile, Tom Frieden, MD, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the H7N9 virus in its current form can't launch a pandemic, but it could if the virus mutates to gain the ability to spread readily from person to person, Reuters reported today. He added that predicting H7N9's next step is impossible. "I cannot say with certainty whether that will happen tomorrow, within the next 10 years, or never."

Frieden told Reuters that the CDC has 193 staff members working on H7N9, with team members in China, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. It activated its emergency operations center (EOC) in early April to monitor disease developments. - CIDRAP.

As the death toll from the H7N9 bird flu virus climbed to 31 on Monday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assured the public that the current strain does not pose a pandemic threat.

While Chinese health authorities continued to work to contain the spread of the H7N9 bird flu strain through the weekend, the known attributed death toll climbed to 31, according to a report from the Center for the Infectious Disease and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

The deadly influenza virus has a known mortality rate of 24 percent, drawn from a universe of 130 cases. The World Health Organization has expressed its concerns over the dangerous nature of this bug, however the virus has not demonstrated any meaningful human-to-human transmission ability. On Monday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sought to assure the public of H7N9's relative limitations, saying the current strain is not capable of delivering a global pandemic.

"This particular virus is not going to cause a pandemic because it doesn't spread person-to-person," Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, told Reuters.

"But all it takes is a bit of mutation for it be able to go person-to-person." Frieden noted that 2,000 people have been in direct contact with the infected populations and yet only a small fraction have become infected themselves.

Virologists remain encouraged that the virus has not yet mutated into a more dangerous human-to-human strain, however the longer this strain of the virus lingers in the ecology the greater the chances that it will inherit the variations needed for person-to-person delivery. - Digital Journal.

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