H7N9 bird flu in China – 104 cases

Chinese National Health and Family Planning Commission notified WHO of an additional two laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus. Both the patients are reported from Zhejiang province.

The first patient is a 54-year-old woman who became ill on 16 April 2013 and the second patient is a 32-year-old man who became ill on 14 April 2013.

Additionally, a patient earlier reported from Zhejiang province has died.

To date, a total of 104 laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus in China, including 21 deaths have been reported to WHO. Contacts of the confirmed cases are being closely monitored.

National authorities continue to implement prevention and control measures.

Investigations into the possible sources of infection and reservoirs of the virus are ongoing. Until the source of infection has been identified, it is expected that there will be further cases of human infection with the virus in China. So far, there is no evidence of ongoing human-to-human transmission.

WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event, nor does it recommend that any travel or trade restrictions be applied.

At the invitation of the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China, WHO has convened a team of experts who will visit areas affected by avian influenza A(H7N9) in China in order to provide recommendations on the prevention and control of the disease.

At this time, no cases of H7N9 outside of China have been reported. The new H7N9 virus has not been detected in people or birds in the United States.

This is a “novel” (non-human) virus and therefore has the potential to cause a pandemic if it were to change to become easily and sustainably spread from person-to-person. So far, this virus has not been determined to have that capability. However, influenza viruses constantly change and it’s possible that this virus could gain that ability. CDC takes routine preparedness actions whenever a new virus with pandemic potential is identified, including developing a candidate vaccine virus to make a vaccine if it were to be needed. There is no licensed H7 vaccine available at this time.

Source: World Health Organization, Switzerland

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