First two human deaths from bird flu reported


BEIJING: Two people in China’s Anhui province have died from H7N9 bird flu, the first fatalities in China among this winter’s cases, while Macau reported its first human H7N9 infection since the former Portuguese colony returned to China in 1999.

Anhui has reported five cases of H7N9 avian flu since Dec 8, including the two people who died, the eastern province’s health authority said in a statement dated Dec 21, posted on its website.

However, the statement did not say whether the other three people had recovered or not.

The Anhui cases bring the total number of people infected with the H7N9 virus in mainland China this month to at least seven.

H7N9 had not been detected in either humans or animals in China until March 2013.

The strain does not seem to transmit easily from person to person, and sustained human-to-human infection has not been reported, according to the World Health Organization.

The danger with any such virus is that it mutates and acquires genetic changes that might increase its pandemic potential.

The last major bird flu outbreak in mainland China - from late 2013 to early 2014 - killed 36 people and led to more than US$6bil (RM26.9mil) in losses for the agricultural sector.

Health authorities in Shanghai said on Wednesday a man diagnosed with the H7N9 strain was being treated there, after travelling from the neighbouring province of Jiangsu.

Shanghai is China’s biggest city with more than 24 million residents.

The local government in Jiangsu was looking into the origin of the infection, the provincial health authority said yesterday.

In Xiamen, a city in Fujian province also in the east, authorities ordered a halt to poultry sales from yesterday in the Siming district, after a 44-year-old man was diagnosed with H7N9 flu, state news agency Xinhua reported on Wednesday.

The patient was in hospital and was stable, Xinhua said then. The city has a population of about 3.5 million.

Hong Kong this weekalso had reported its first human bird flu infection for this season. — Reuters

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