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“Mutated” Bird Flu Kills 19, Infects 96 In 2014 Already; China Says Epidemic Risk Unchanged | Zero Hedge
The H7N9 mutation of the bird flu virus is “more prone to human infection” than the H5N1 virus, with the fatality rate reaching 20-30%. China’s National Influenza Center (CNIC) has reported athat H7N9 has killed 19 in China this year already and the total number of infections has reached 96. Although , as always, details are few and far between, CNIC’s Shu Yuelong states that “the risk assessment of H7N9 epidemic outbreak is unchanged,” despite the admission that the virus is more difficult to prevent as there is no obvious symptom for H7N9 infected poultry. South Korea has expanded a poultry cull on fears of contagion.
H7N9 bird flu has killed 19 in China this year already, and the total number of human infections has reached 96, according to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Shu Yuelong, director of the Chinese National Influenza Center (CNIC), said on Monday that a large-scale H7N9 epidemic is unlikely during the Spring Festival holiday, as no H7N9 virus mutation that could affect public health has been identified so far.
“There is no evidence of constant inter-human transmission, and the risk assessment of H7N9 epidemic outbreak is unchanged,” said Shu.
Shu reiterated that H7N9 is more prone to human infection than H5N1, with H7N9 case fatality rate reaching 20 to 30 percent.
The virus is more difficult to be prevented as there is no obvious symptom for H7N9 infected poultry, and at present the CNIC is not able to precisely predict the direction of the mutation of the H7N9 virus.
“We will continue to strengthen monitoring and carry out research,” said Shu.
On Sunday, the National Health and Family Planning Commission issued a paper on H7N9 diagnosis and treatment, noting that early report, diagnosis and treatment are the best ways to prevent and control the virus.
South Korea is expanding a poultry cull in a bid to contain the spread of bird flu that has been found on an increasing number of farms around the country and in migratory birds.
The country’s agriculture ministry said the H5N8 strain of bird flu had been detected on six poultry farms and that there had been 13 cases in migratory birds since the first outbreak earlier this month.
No human infection has been reported, while the ministry is looking into four additional reports from poultry farms and more than 50 other suspected cases in migratory birds, it said in a statement on Monday.
South Korea will slaughter over 1.4 million farm birds, including 644,000 that have already been killed, according to the ministry. That would be under 1 percent of the country’s total 160 million poultry population.
The first case of H5N8 bird flu was found on January 17 at a duck farm in the southwestern province of North Jeolla, about 300 km (186 miles) from Seoul.
Addressing H5N1 concerns9:34
Alberta health officials have confirmed an isolated, fatal case of H5N1 or avian influenza, federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose said Wednesday.
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But officials repeatedly emphasized that there is no risk of transmission between humans.
The infected person, an Alberta resident who recently travelled to Beijing, China, died Jan. 3.
The case was confirmed in a lab test last night. It’s the first such case in North America.
The person first showed symptoms of the flu on a Dec. 27 flight from Beijing to Vancouver aboard Air Canada flight 030. The passenger continued on to Edmonton on Air Canada flight 244, after spending a few hours in the Vancouver airport, and was admitted to hospital Jan. 1. The symptoms of fever, malaise and headache worsened and the patient died two days later. The Public Health Agency of Canada was notified Jan. 5.
There were no respiratory symptoms, said Dr. James Talbot, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health.
The diagnosis at the time of death was an inflammation of the brain and the linings that cover the brain. “That is one of the ways that H5N1 patients die,” Talbot said.
It is not known how the patient contracted the disease. The patient did not leave Beijing, did not travel to farms and did not visit any markets.
“Virtually every case has a pretty strong link to a close contact with birds,” Talbot said, though he noted there are other settings in which a person might catch H5N1, such as a restaurant that kept live birds for slaughter.
Rare in humans
Dr. Gregory Taylor, deputy chief public health officer, said the avian form of influenza has been found in birds, mainly poultry, in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
There have been fewer than than 650 human cases of bird flu in 15 countries over the last decade, primarily among people who have spent time around infected birds, he said.
“The illness [H5N1] causes in humans is severe and kills about 60 per cent of those who are infected,” Taylor said.
“No other illnesses of this type have been identified in Canada since the traveller returned from China. This is an isolated case.”
The officials added that the patient was otherwise healthy and it’s not yet clear how the person contracted H5N1.
Speaking to Evan Solomon, host of CBC News Network’s Power & Politics, Taylor said the patient was relatively young.
“This was a relatively young — well, a young person compared to me, with no underlying health conditions,” he said. Taylor is 58.
Risk of getting H5N1 low
Officials emphasized that this is not a disease transmitted between humans.
There were two people travelling with the infected person, whom officials are following for 10 days to ensure they don’t have any symptoms. They are also going to notify the other passengers from the flights between Beijing and Edmonton, and are following a group of the patient’s “close contacts.”
Talbot said family members of the victim are being monitored and treated with medication, but noted that there’s no sign they are sick.
Officials created confusion by referring to the patient as “him” and “her” in order to avoid identifying anyone. Officials said that they would not identify the sex, age or occupation of the patient. They also refused to say whether the infected passenger was an Edmonton resident or whether the patient went to hospital in Edmonton, although the final leg of the flight ended there.
Talbot said reports that the patient was from Edmonton are erroneous.
Ambrose, who phoned into a news conference in Ottawa, said Canadian officials are working with Chinese authorities on the case, as well as the World Health Organization.
“The risk of getting H5N1 is very low. This is not the regular seasonal flu. This is an isolated case,” she said.
An Air Canada spokeswoman said in a statement the airline is co-operating with officials, but referred any questions on the matter to the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Source: World Health Organization
Figures for all countries except Canada are current as of Dec. 10, 2013. Canada’s one case was reported on Jan. 8, 2014.