For the second week in a row, China reported just one H7N9 avian influenza case for the week, a sign that the fifth wave of activity is probably drawing to a close.
In other H7N9 developments, China's agriculture ministry announced this week that it will expand poultry vaccination beyond just two provinces to the whole country.
Latest illness is from far southwestern China
In an update on cases reported from Jun 7 to Jun 13, Hong Kong's Center for Health Protection (CHP) said the only illness involves a 54-year-old man from the city of Wenshan, located in Yunnan province, in far southwestern China near the border with Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar.
In late June Yunnan province reported its first local H7N9 cases, fitting with a fifth wave hallmark of a wide geographic distribution of cases, including some provinces that had previously reported no or few cases in earlier H7N9 waves.
An investigation revealed that the man became ill on Jun 23 and that he had been exposed to poultry markets.
China has reported about 750 cases in the fifth and biggest wave of H7N9 illnesses, which began last October. At least 282 cases were fatal, according to a recent summary of infectious diseases release by China's National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC), translated and posted on Jun 12 by Avian Flu Diary, an infectious disease news blog.
Poultry vaccine developments
Earlier this week, China's agriculture ministry announced that it would expand the deployment of H7N9 vaccine for poultry to the whole country, rather than just two provinces, Guangdong and Guangxi. In June, the ministry had said it would begin offering the vaccine on a trial basis in the two provinces in early July.
According to agriculture ministry statements translated and posted by Avian Flu Diary, the vaccine is a bivalent inactivated vaccine against H5 and H7.
News of the vaccine launch comes in the wake of fast spread of a highly pathogenic strain of H7N9, which was first detected in February and has quickly spread to several provinces where it has fueled large outbreaks with large numbers of poultry deaths. The developments pose a major threat to the country's poultry industry.
A recent situation update on H7N9 from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said nationwide implementation of poultry vaccination will begin in September and will apply to chickens, ducks, and geese, as well as domestic quail, pigeons, and rare birds.
Jul 15 CHP statement
Jul 12 AFD post on NHFPC numbers
Jul 13 AFD post on H7N9 poultry vaccine deployment
Jul 12 FAO H7N9 update