Chinese government reports first instance of H7N9 virus among humans
A new strain of bird flu in humans has been identified as H7N9 and already two men have died and one woman is critically ill in hospital. The news was released in a statement on Sunday by China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission. It was unclear how they became infected with the disease however all faced common symptoms of high fever, a bad cough which later developed into severe pneumonia and difficulty breathing.
The two men said to be 87 years old and 27 years old came into contact with the illness in mid February and in March they were pronounced dead. They were from the city of Shangai. The woman from Anhui Province nearby turned ill on March 9th.
Two sons of the 87 year old man also reportedly became seriously ill with pneumonia with one of them dying and the other recovering. It is not believed that they had the H7N9 virus however everything is being done to investigate any links between them.
Already analysis is being gathered on the H7N9 virus but it is not believed to be highly contagious as 88 people who were in contact with the 3 affected ill people do not appear to have contracted the virus.
There is some criticism on the reporting made by the Chinese government. For example how has it taken nearly a month to report there is a problem? Many people are aware of similar problems regarding the SARS disease and how it is argued that the government made a cover up. Chinese authorities responded by saying that the H7N9 strain is new and therefore not recorded. It has therefore taken a while for it to be diagnosed and understood before the information was released publically.
Scientists are closely monitoring the situation fearing that the virus could mutate into a form that is easily transferable to humans. So far most human cases have been linked to contact with infected birds. However before the announcement it was believed that H7N9 was believed to only affect birds.
The majority of human related deaths from bird flu have come from the H5N1 strain that originated in 2003 and destroyed poulty stocks across China.
The recommended advice from officials is to be careful around the preparation of poultry including cooking and also to regularly wash your hands.
Source: Health Map