April 4, 2012 – CHINA – A middle-aged man who transported poultry for a living has died from a new strain of bird flu, the fourth death among 11 confirmed cases in China, the government and state media reported Thursday. The 48-year-old man, who died in Shanghai, is one of several among the infected believed to have had direct contact with fowl, which may carry the virus. Until recently, the virus, known as H7N9, was not known to infect humans. It is not known how people are becoming sick with the virus, and health officials and scientists caution that there are no indications it can be transmitted from one person to another. Scientists who have studied the virus’s genetic sequence said this week that the virus may have mutated, spreading more easily to other animals and potentially posing a bigger threat to humans. Guidelines issued Wednesday by the national health agency identify butchers, breeders and sellers of poultry, and those in the meat processing industry as at higher risk. Experts only identified the first cases on Sunday. Some among the 11 confirmed cases fell ill several weeks ago but only now are being classified as having H7N9. The government of Shanghai said that in addition to the man’s death and two previously confirmed cases, there are three other suspected cases. –ABC News
Fifth death reported: Authorities in Shanghai said Thursday night that another person has died from H7N9 bird flu, bringing the death toll from the new deadly strain to five around the country. The city has reported six infections to date, and four have died, said the Shanghai Municipal Health and Family Planning Commission. Of the rest two, there was a four-year-old, the agency said. The baby was recovering from mild illness, it added. The person died at Huashan Hospital on Wednesday and was confirmed infected with the H7N9 strain on Thursday. The commission gave no further information on the latest case. Also on Thursday, the commission reported the city’s third death from the H7N9 bird flu. The case involved a 48-year-old man surnamed Chu, a poultry transporter from Rugao in neighboring Jiangsu Province. He developed symptoms of cough on March 28. After having a fever on Monday, he went to a private clinic for treatment. The man then sought help in the Tongji Hospital in Shanghai in the early hours of Wednesday after his condition worsened. Chu died three hours after being admitted to the hospital. He was confirmed infected with the H7N9 virus on Thursday. Eight people who had close contact with him have shown no abnormal symptoms. So far, China has confirmed 14 H7N9 cases — six in Shanghai, four in Jiangsu, three in Zhejiang and one in Anhui, in the first known human infections of the lesser-known strain. Of all, four died in Shanghai and one died in Zhejiang. China’s Ministry of Agriculture said Thursday the H7N9 avian flu virus has been detected from pigeon samples collected at a marketplace in Songjiang District of Shanghai. After gene sequence analysis, the national avian flu reference laboratory concluded that the strain of the H7N9 virus found on pigeons was highly congenetic with those found on persons infected with H7N9 virus. –Xinhaunet
H7N9: is the next pandemic brewing?