Taiwan reports first human H7N9 bird flu case, experts consider it ‘one of most lethal’ influenzas
The China human avian influenza A(H7N9) outbreak, as of yesterday, stood at 108 confirmed cases and 22 fatalities, all on the mainland.
However, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) in Taiwan has confirmed the first imported case of H7N9 avian influenza in a 53-year-old male Taiwanese citizen who worked in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China prior to illness onset.
According to Taiwanese health authorities, the patient developed his illness three days after returning to Taiwan. Infection with avian influenza A (H7N9) was confirmed today by the National Influenza Center in Taiwan who also completed the genome sequencing of the virus. The patient is currently in a severe condition and being treated in a negative-pressure isolation room.
The man has a history of traveling back and forth regularly between Suzhou and Taiwan for a long time.
Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control said in a statement that the infected male “had not been exposed to birds and poultry during his stay in Suzhou and had not consumed undercooked poultry or eggs.”
The CECC is urging travelers visiting China to practice good personal hygiene such as washing hands frequently and putting on a mask, take preventive measures such as avoiding direct contact with poultry and birds or their droppings, avoiding visiting traditional markets with live poultry, consuming only thoroughly cooked poultry and eggs. If symptoms such as fever and cough develop after returning to Taiwan, please put on a surgical mask and seek immediate medical attention.
In China, the expert team sent to the country to investigate the outbreak has drawn a couple of conclusions–the likely source of the outbreak is poultry and that H7N9 is a very lethal influenza virus.
This is definitely one of the most lethal influenza viruses we have seen so far,” said Keiji Fukuda, one of the leading flu experts for the World Health Organisation, which has led a team on a week-long visit to China to study H7N9.
“When we look at influenza viruses this is an unusually dangerous virus,” he said.
In addition, the team said the likely source of infection was poultry, as chickens, ducks and pigeons from poultry markets had tested positive for H7N9.
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