Increase reported in H7N9 avian flu cases in China

In its weekly report, Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection (CHP) today confirmed 12 H7N9 avian flu cases reported from China's mainland from Jun 2 through Jun 8. The previous 2 weeks saw 8 and 9 cases reported, respectively, so the update reflects a small uptick.

Nine of the 12 cases had known exposure to poultry, and one patient was listed as a 4-year-old. That case is notable because H7N9 infections in children are uncommon. Eight men and four women contracted the virus, and their ages range from 4 to 68 years. The patients reported symptom onset from May 20 to Jun 3.

Three of the cases are from Beijing, and officials said they were likely imported from other provinces. A new case from Shaanxi province was likely imported from Inner Mongolia province, the second case such case in Shaanxi in the last 2 weeks.

There were two cases each reported in Anhui, Chongqing and Henan, and one each from Jiangsu and Shandong.

The CHP said the new cases warrant a call for strict personal hygiene for travelers to China's mainland. Travelers to the mainland or other affected areas have been told to avoid visiting live-poultry markets or farms.

"They should be alert to the presence of backyard poultry when visiting relatives and friends," the CHP report said. "They should strictly observe personal and hand hygiene when visiting any place with live poultry."

Poultry die-off in Mongolia

In other H7N9 news, Avian Flu Diary, an infectious disease tracking blog, posted a translated report from the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture, which described a large poultry die-off in Inner Mongolia province, which reported its first poultry outbreak just a few weeks ago.

Of almost 60,000 laying hens, more than 35,000 died, the report said. A national reference lab confirmed H7N9 yesterday, and the large number of poultry deaths suggests that the virus is highly pathogenic. At least three human cases of H7N9 have been traced back to Inner Mongolia province in June.

See also:

Jun 9 CHP report

Jun 9 Avian Flu Diary post

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