Bird Flu – China – Update

The National Health and Family Planning Commission, China notified WHO of a new laboratory-confirmed case of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus. This is the first new confirmed case of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus since 20 July 2013.

Blood samples hint at silent H7N9 in poultry workers in China.

A serology study in a Chinese province hit hardest by novel H7N9 influenza found evidence of asymptomatic or mild infections in poultry workers, further strengthening suspicions that poultry are the source of the outbreak.

Zhejiang province has recorded 45 cases during the outbreak thus far. Among poultry workers, 6.3% had antibodies against the new H7N9 virus. In contrast, the investigators found no evidence of antibodies in the general population. The results weren’t surprising, because a study more than a decade ago in poultry workers showed a similar seroprevalence to avian H7 subtypes.

The lack of findings in the general population could signify that cross-species transmissions are recent and sporadic events, and the ability of H7N9 to spread between humans is so far limited. Though the number of infections have tailed off in China, the country continues to report sporadic cases. At this point four patients sickened in the outbreak are still hospitalized, and 87 have been discharged.

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