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China bird flu deaths surge,worst season ever

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    Posted: February 15 2017 at 2:05pm

China bird flu deaths surge in what could be the worst season ever as many as 79 people died from H7N9 bird flu in China last month, the government said, stoking worries that the spread of the virus this season could be the worst on record.

January's fatalities were up to four times higher than the same month in past years, and brought the total H7N9 death toll to 100 people since October, data from the National Health and Family Planning Commission showed late on Tuesday.

Authorities have repeatedly warned the public to stay alert for the virus, and cautioned against panic in the world's second-largest economy.

But the latest bird flu data has sparked concerns of a repeat of previous health crises, like the 2002 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

"It's mid-February already and we are just getting the January numbers. With the death rate almost catching up with SARS, shouldn't warnings be issued earlier?" said one user of popular microblog Sina Weibo.

Other netizens in the Chinese blogosphere worried about the pace of infections, and called for even more up-to-date reports.

The People's Daily, the official paper of the ruling Communist Party, warned people in a social media post to stay away from live poultry markets, saying it was "extremely clear" that poultry and their excrement were the cause of the infections.

"The situation is still ongoing, and our Chinese counterparts are actively investigating the reported cases," the World Health Organization's China Representative Office said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

"As the investigation is ongoing, it is premature to conclusively identify the cause for the increased number of cases. Nevertheless, we know that the majority of human cases got the A(H7N9) virus through contact with infected poultry or contaminated environments, including live poultry markets."

Chinese chicken prices sank to their lowest levels in more than a decade on Wednesday.


China, which first reported a human infection from the virus in March 2013, has seen a sharp rise in H7N9 cases since December. The official government total is 306 since October, with 192 reported last month.

But others believe the number of infections is higher.

The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota last week estimated China had at least 347 human infections so far this winter, eclipsing the record of 319 seen three years ago.

"An important factor in the past waves of H7N9 cases among humans in China has been rapid closure of live poultry markets," said Ian Mackay, a virologist at the University of Queensland in Australia.

"This season there seems to have been a slower response to the outbreak, which may be leading to greater numbers of human exposures to infected birds."

Most of the H7N9 human infections reported this season have been in the south and along the coast.

In Hong Kong, where two of the four patients infected with H7N9 this winter have died, health officials said they would step up checks at poultry farms.

H7N9 had spread widely and early this year, but most cases were contained in the same areas as previous years, including the Yangtze River Delta and Guangdong, Shu Yuelong, head of the Chinese National Influenza Center, told state radio.

Beijing on Saturday reported its first human H7N9 case this year. The patient is a 68-year-old man from Langfang city in neighboring Hebei province.

A second human case was reported on Tuesday.

"It is highly likely that further sporadic cases will continue to be reported," the WHO said.

"Whenever influenza viruses are circulating in poultry, sporadic infections or small clusters of human cases are possible."

The World Health Organization recently said it had not been able to rule out limited human-to-human spread in two clusters of cases although no sustained spread has been detected so far.

The Health and Family Planning Commission of southwestern Yunnan province said a woman died from H7N9 on Tuesday night.

The victim was the mother of a three-year old toddler who died of H7N9 earlier this month, the official Xinhua news agency reported late Wednesday, citing the Yunnan commission.

The two had traveled to Jiangxi last month and had contact with live poultry in the southeastern province. The mother developed symptoms on Feb. 4 and was hospitalized four days later as she had close contact with her daughter, who died on Feb. 7.

For graphic on bird flu strains click here

(Reporting by Ryan Woo and Josephine Mason; Additional reporting by Nick Heath, Christian Shepherd, Dominique Patton and Lusha Zhang in BEIJING and Venus Wu in HONG KONG; Editing by Randy Fabi and David Evans)

12 Monkeys...............
1995 ‧ Science fiction film/Thriller ‧ 2h 11m a must for AFT
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jacksdad Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 15 2017 at 5:25pm
192 reported cases and 79 deaths - in one month?
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"Any community that fails to prepare, with the expectation that the federal government will come to the rescue, will be tragically wrong." Michael Leavitt, HHS Secretary.
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H7N9 bird flu season past its peak

China's worst H7N9 bird flu season appears to have passed its peak but still is expected to last into late April, according to the latest information from epidemiologists.

Ni Daxin, deputy director of emergency response for the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Wednesday that the H7N9 epidemic appears to have been contained because fewer new cases are being reported daily.

"The peak of the epidemic seems to have passed, but smaller outbreaks may last into late April," he said at a news conference held by the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

He called for strengthening measures to control the virus, in particular shutting down additional live poultry markets.

In January alone, the Chinese mainland reported 192 human cases of H7N9, including 79 deaths, making it the worst season since the virus first appeared in the country in 2013, according to the commission.

The situation has rekindled public concern about potential viral mutations that could facilitate human-to-human transmission and an H7N9 pandemic.

Shu Yuelong, head of the Chinese National Influenza Center, said the virus has so far shown no mutations that would enable a sustained human spread.

However, he said that there have been four family clusters reported since September, and two may have involved human-to-human transmission via close contact.

Each of the two clusters involved two family members, with the first patient contracting the virus through exposure to live poultry in both cases, Shu said, without providing more details.

"These were highly individual, and all other patients were infected through contact with infected live poultry or wild birds," he stressed.

China has a national, real-time viral surveillance network and a joint epidemic control force involving several departments covering areas such as agriculture and commerce, according to a division director with the health commission who declined to be named.

"This collaboration is crucial to fighting viruses like H7N9, which can infect birds and humans," he said. Information exchanges helped agricultural authorities determine that H7N9 contamination is concentrated at live poultry markets, not at chicken farms.

In the hardest-hit regions, almost half of the remaining live poultry markets were found to have H7N9 contamination, he said.

During this H7N9 bird flu season, which started in October, the virus had infected 306 people and by the end of January had killed 100 in 16 provinces, including Guangdong, Jiangsu and Anhui.

Most cases happened in the south and on the eastern seaboard, Ni said, adding that the main reasons were weather conditions and "the local habits of buying live or freshly slaughtered chickens".

In response, regions have shut down live poultry trading and markets as part of effort to contain the outbreak.

But that is only a short-term, emergency measure, Ni said. "The ultimate way out is to upgrade the industry, shifting to large-scale poultry farming and slaughtering."

The closing of live poultry markets has proved effective in slowing the spread of the virus, he said, adding that the public can also help by avoiding live poultry markets or handling live poultry or their droppings.

"If the public buys only frozen poultry, control of the epidemic will be much easier. The nutritional value is equal to that of freshly slaughtered poultry, but it involves far fewer health risks," Ni added.

Comment: With H7N9 showing few signs of H2H what really worry's me is the fact that it is slowly moving west into Yunnan and Sichuan and their proximity to Myanmar and India!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote carbon20 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 17 2017 at 1:27pm
12 Monkeys...............
1995 ‧ Science fiction film/Thriller ‧ 2h 11m a must for AFT
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