by Staff Writers
Shanghai (AFP) March 10, 2014
A total of 72 people died from the H7N9 bird flu strain in China in the first two months of this year, government figures showed, far more than in the whole of 2013.
China reported 41 deaths and 99 cases of H7N9 avian influenza in February alone, the National Health and Family Planning Commission said in monthly figures for infectious disease, bringing the total cases this year to 226.
The Asian country recorded 46 deaths and 144 cases for 2013 in an outbreak which started early in the year and returned in the autumn.
Chinese officials and the World Health Organization (WHO) say there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission but there have been "family clusters" -- involving relatives in close contact apparently infecting each other -- since the new strain appeared in people last year.
The virus ignited fears that it could possibly mutate to become easily transmissible between people, which might threaten to trigger a global pandemic.
Experts have pointed to a seasonal rise in cases so far this year, thought to be linked to cold weather.
"It's largely a seasonal weather change thing and nothing else," the WHO representative in China, Bernhard Schwartlander, told reporters late last month.
"The virus just likes to be in the cold -- it survives more easily. Also in the wintertime the (human) respiratory system is a little bit more fragile," he said.
China has responded to the current outbreak by clamping down on live poultry markets and stepping up monitoring of people with symptoms associated with the virus.
Last week Hong Kong confirmed its sixth case of H7N9 bird flu, and the special administrative region of China has banned live poultry imports from the mainland in an effort to control the disease.
Epidemics on Earth - Bird Flu, HIV/AIDS, Ebola
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.|