The rate of new H7N9 infections reported in China slowed today, with one new case cited in Zhejiang province, along with a death in a previous case in Fujian province, according to information from the media and health agencies.
The Zhejiang case involves a 70-year-old man in Hangzhou who is hospitalized in critical condition, according to a translated report from the Zhejiang Provincial Health and Family Commission, posted on the FluTrackers infectious disease message board.
Zhejiang, a coastal province in southeastern China, is (with Guangdong) one of the two provinces hit hardest by the second wave of the H7N9 cases, which began last fall.
The death in Fujian province, which borders Zhejiang on the south, was reported today by Xinhua, China's state-run news agency, citing the province's Health and Family Planning Commission. The story gave no identifying information about the patient.
Sharon Sanders, editor-in-chief and president of FluTrackers, wrote in a post that the description in a translated report from provincial officials matched up with a previously reported case in a 30-year-old man from Quanzhou Nanan.
The Xinhua story said two other Fujian patients have been released from a hospital.
The new case raises the unofficial total in the second wave of infections to 202, compared with 136 cases in the first wave, which began last spring and subsided by summer. With the latest death, the unofficial death toll in both waves increases to 72.
Over the past month, at least 3 or 4 new H7N9 cases have been reported every day in China, with daily counts reaching as high as 11 on Jan 24.
Question of poultry exposure
Last week Chinese poultry industry officials appealed to the government to cut back on information released about the disease, out of concern that the publicity was hurting poultry sales. Many case-patients were exposed to poultry or live-poultry markets before they got sick.
Also today, the World Health Organization (WHO) released information from seven case reports that it received from China's National Health and Family Planning Commission on Feb 9 and 10.
The WHO said one patient, an 81-year-old woman from Shenzhen in Guangdong province, died on Feb 7. Of the other six patients, three were in critical condition and 2 in severe condition; 1, an 11-year-old boy, was in stable condition with a mild illness.
The patients, six of whom are male, hail from five provinces and range from 11 to 81 years old, the WHO reported. Five of the seven were exposed to live poultry before they became ill.
In another development, a separate Xinhua story today suggested that family-raised poultry may be becoming an important source of H7N9 infections. The story said the share of family-raised poultry that have tested positive for the virus stands between 30% and 50% in areas inhabited by H7N9 patients, but it gave no information on the source of that statistic.
The story quoted Li Lanjuan, described as an academician with the Chinese Academy of Engineering, as saying, "Family-raised poultry is likely to rise as another source transmitting the virus to humans after live poultry markets."
Feb 11 FluTrackers post
Feb 11 Xinhua story on Fujian cases
Feb 11 WHO statement
Feb 11 Xinhua story on family-raised poultry as possible source of infection
FluTrackers human H7N9 case list