The United Nations' World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday it has been notified by China's National Health and Family Planning Commission of three additional laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus in the country.
WHO said the first case was a 51-year-old man from Zhenjiang City in Jiangsu Province, who took ill on April 13. He was admitted to a hospital on April 18 and is currently in a critical condition. Information on exposure is currently not available.
The second case pertains to a 75-year-old woman from Ganzhou City in Jiangxi Province. She became ill on April 12 and was admitted to a hospital on April 17. She is currently in a critical condition. The patient has a history of exposure to poultry.
The third patient is a 55 year-old man from Lu'an City in Anhui Province. He became ill on April 15, and was admitted to a hospital on April 23. He is currently in a severe condition. The patient has a history of exposure to poultry.
Influenza A(H7N9) is one of a subgroup of influenza viruses that normally circulate among birds. Until recently, this virus had not been seen in human beings. However, human infections have now been detected. Nevertheless, there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission.
WHO said the Chinese government is continuing to take surveillance and control measures, including strengthening epidemic surveillance and analysis; reinforcing case management and treatment as well as conducting risk communication with the public and releasing information.
The agency noted reports of A/H7N9 virus being detected in live poultry imported from the mainland China into Hong Kong. Nonetheless, the agency stressed there is currently no indication that international spread of H7N9 has occurred through humans or animals.
The agency urged travelers to countries with known outbreaks of avian influenza to avoid poultry farms, or contact with animals in live bird markets, or entering areas where poultry may be slaughtered, or contact with any surfaces that appear to be contaminated with faeces from poultry or other animals. It also urged travelers to wash their hands often with soap and water, and follow good food safety as well as good food hygiene practices.
"WHO encourages countries to continue strengthening influenza surveillance, including surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and to carefully review any unusual patterns, in order to ensure reporting of human infections under the IHR (2005), and continue national health preparedness actions," the statement said.
by RTT Staff Writer
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