Bird flu in China spreads

April 22, 2013

According to Reuters, China is investigating a new strain of bird flu that has killed 20 people. Authorities have slaughtered thousands of birds and closed some live poultry markets to slow the rate of human infection. But many aspects of this new variety of bird flu remain a mystery, particularly whether the H7N9 strain is being transmitted between people.

China has warned that the number of infections, 102 so far, could rise. Most of the cases and 11 of the deaths have been in the commercial capital Shanghai.

Efforts to determine the nature of the H7N9 virus are hampered by a lack of accurate information from the victims on whether they have had contact with poultry. The World Health Organization said on April 17 that a number of people who have tested positive for the new strain appear to have had no contact with poultry. Zeng Guang, Chief Scientist in charge of epidemiology at the China Disease Prevention and Control Centre (CDPCC), said about 40% of human victims had no clear history of poultry exposure.

The WHO said a team of experts going to China soon would examine whether the virus can be spread between people, although there was “no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission.”

Reuters article