China has reported another H5N6 avian flu infection, its fourth in 2 weeks, as well as 9 more H7N9 illnesses, boosting the number of cases in the fourth wave of illnesses to 20 and the overall total past 700.
The rise in human avian flu cases comes in the weeks leading up to Lunar New Year celebrations, a time when poultry sales pick up and illnesses have historically climbed.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today posted a travel notice urging people to take a host of health precautions, including to protect against avian flu, for people who will visit Asia to celebrate the Lunar New Year, which falls on Feb 8. The agency warned travelers to avoid touching birds, pigs, or other animals and to avoid farms and poultry markets.
H5N6 case was fatal
The latest H5N6 case was reported in Jiangxi province in the southeastern part of the country, according to a statement yesterday from Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection (CHP).
The patient is a 42-year-old man who from Guangdong province who died on Dec 21 at a hospital in the Jiangxi city of Ganzhou. He had visited a live-poultry market before he became ill. The CHP said his illness was detected during routine surveillance, adding that the man had severe pneumonia when he was tested.
His infection is the eighth H5N6 case ever to be detected, all in China, and the fourth since late December. All four of the recent cases have links to Guangdong province. Of the eight people infected with the virus since 2014, five have died.
The Chinese media today said a 40-year-old woman whose H5N6 case was first announced on Jan 1 gave birth to a healthy baby via cesarean section. Shanghai Daily reported that the baby has tested negative for the virus and that the mother is in critical condition.
In a related development, the World Health Organization (WHO) today confirmed the man's illness and another recent case, that of a 25-year-old man whole illness was first reported on Jan 7. It said both men had visited live-poultry markets before falling ill.
The younger man got sick on Jan 1, was hospitalized on Jan 4, and is in severe condition. The other man started having symptoms on Dec 12 and was admitted to the hospital on Dec 19.
The WHO said it is closely monitoring the H5N6 situation and assessing the threat from the virus. However, it said so far its risk assessment hasn't changed. Most patients had exposure to live poultry before they got sick.
The virus is a novel reassortant between H5N1 and a H6N6 virus that had widely been circulating in ducks. It was first detected at a poultry market in China in March 2014 and has been now also been detected in poultry in Vietnam, Laos, and Hong Kong.
Pace of H7N9 infections picks up
Meanwhile, China has reported nine new H7N9 avian flu cases over the past few days, according to surveillance reports for December from the Chinese government and one of its provinces, as well as other official reports.
Two of the cases are in Jiangsu province and were noted in a surveillance report for December from provincial health officials that picked up on Jan 7 and translated by FluTrackers, an infectious disease news message board. No details about the patients were noted.
Two more recent cases were noted in separate reports from the CHP. In a Jan 9 report the agency, citing mainland officials, said a case involving a 58-year-old woman was detected in Shanghai. She is hospitalized, and no other details were available.
In a statement today the CHP said it was closely monitoring two new cases from the mainland, one of them thought to have been reported a few days ago from the Zhejiang province city of Ningbo. According to a report today from Xinhua, China's state news agency, the new case is another in Ningbo, according to a translation from FluTrackers.
Also, China's National Health and Family Planning Commission indicated in a surveillance report today that 10 H7N9 cases, 3 of them fatal, were reported during December. No details were available. FluTrackers noted that five of the cases were already reported through other channels and that five were new cases.
The new cases lift the overall global H7N9 total to 705 cases, according to a case list kept by FluTrackers.
Jan 11 CDC travel notice
Jan 10 CHP statement on H5N6 case
Jan 11 Shanghai Daily story
Jan 11 WHO statement
Jan 7 FluTrackers thread on Jiangsu province cases
Jan 9 CHP statement on Shanghai H7N9 case
Jan 11 CHP statement on two new mainland H7N9 cases
Jan 11 FluTrackers thread on 2 new H7N9 cases
Jan 11 FluTrackers thread on December H7N9 surveillance
FluTrackers H7N9 case list