Apr 22, 2013 (CIDRAP News) – The novel H7N9 virus has been detected in a 36-year-old Shandong province man, the area's first case, as health officials reported three more infections and one additional death from already-affected areas.
Shandong province is northeast of the main outbreak area and is south of Beijing, the northernmost area that has reported H7N9 cases. The man's infection was confirmed by provincial officials, but his sample has been sent to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) for further confirmation.
The three other newly reported cases are from Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces, according to Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection (CHP), which cited China's National Health and Family Planning Commission. The patient from Jiangsu is a 68-year-old man who is hospitalized in stable condition.
Today's update from the World Health Organization (WHO) had further details on the patients from Zhejiang province, a 54-year-old woman who got sick on Apr 16 and a 32-year-old man who got sick on Apr 14. Xinhua, China's state news agency, said the man is from neighboring Jiangxi province but is being treated in a local hospital in Zhejiang province.
Both of the patients hospitalized in Zhejiang province are in stable condition, according the CHP.
The fatality is in a previously reported patient from Zhejiang province, according to the WHO. The death raises the number of H7N9 fatalities to 21.
If China CDC confirms the Shandong case and includes the Jiangsu case in its total, the number of lab-confirmed infections would rise to 106.
The WHO said close contacts of the confirmed H7N9 cases are being monitored and that so far there is no evidence of ongoing human-to-human transmission.
Experts find no ongoing transmission
In a related development, a team of experts from China's health ministry and a panel of their international colleagues and WHO officials have so far found no evidence of human-to-human transmission, according to a separate report from Xinhua.
Yang Weizhong, MPH, deputy director of China CDC and co-chair of the expert panel, said more testing is needed to explore the transmission issue, and more monitoring efforts are needed to gauge the origins and variations of the virus, Xinhua reported.
The group also found that the developments with the virus so far don't appear to trigger the need to launch production of a vaccine against the novel virus, Xinhua reported.
H7N9 in another pigeon
Meanwhile, China's agriculture ministry today reported that the low-pathogenic H7N9 virus has been detected in a pigeon from a farm in Jiangsu province, according to a report today from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).The bird had a subclinical infection, and it and the other 339 birds at the farm were destroyed to control the spread of the virus.
Though pigeons are typically considered less suitable hosts for avian flu viruses compared with other species, the pigeon reported today appears to be the fifth to be infected in ongoing testing. Earlier in the outbreak the virus was detected in live-bird markets in pigeons that were raised for consumption, and the virus was also found in one wild pigeon in the city of Nanjing in Jiangsu province.
The virus detailed in today's report was from a racing pigeon, according to a researcher from China who monitors Chinese media reports on behalf of CIDRAP News.
It also marks the first H7N9 finding in a farm setting.
Apr 22 CHP statement
Apr 22 WHO update
Apr 22 Xinhua story
Apr 22 Xinhua story on international expert group
Apr 22 OIE report