H7N9 toll grows to 130 cases, 31 deaths

May 6, 2013 (CIDRAP News) – Health officials in China reported two new H7N9 infections, both from Fujian province, and four more deaths, boosting the outbreak's total to 130 cases, 31 of them (24%) fatal.

One of the patients is a 9-year-old boy whose infection was detected during routine flu surveillance, according to official and media reports today. He has been discharged from the hospital, according to a statement Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection (CHP).

The other patient is a 69-year-old man who is hospitalized, according to a separate statement yesterday from the CHP. So far none of the man's nine close contacts have shown any symptoms.

China's National Health and Family Commission today put the number of deaths at 31, an increase of four since the group's last update, Xinhua, China's state news agency, reported today. The report did not include any other details about the deaths. The report also said 42 patients have recovered from their H7N9 infections.

In other developments, China's agriculture ministry yesterday announced five more poultry and market environmental samples that tested positive for H7N9, according to a report from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). They included three environment samples from a live-bird market in Shandong province, one chicken sample from a live-bird wholesale market in Guangdong province, and one chicken sample from a market in Jiangxi province.

Guangdong is the only province to report a positive bird or market sample in the absence of confirmed human H7N9 cases. It is also the southernmost area of China to report positive H7N9 findings. The OIE report said 89,964 birds were destroyed at the Guangdong wholesale market, which is located in Dongguan.

The health ministry said the H7N9 virus detected in the samples is similar to that found in a pigeon collected from a market in Shanghai in early April, Xinhua reported yesterday.

Meanwhile, Tom Frieden, MD, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the H7N9 virus in its current form can't launch a pandemic, but it could if the virus mutates to gain the ability to spread readily from person to person, Reuters reported today. He added that predicting H7N9's next step is impossible. "I cannot say with certainty whether that will happen tomorrow, within the next 10 years, or never."

Frieden told Reuters that the CDC has 193 staff members working on H7N9, with team members in China, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. It activated its emergency operations center (EOC) in early April to monitor disease developments.

See also:

May 6 CHP statement

May 5 CHP statement

May 6 Xinhua story

May 5 OIE report

May 5 Xinhua story

May 6 Reuters story

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