Four more people in China fall ill with bird flu

Cities step up emergency measures to counter virus

A vendor waits for customers near chicken cages at a market in Fuyang city, in central China's Anhui province on Sunday.

A vendor waits for customers near chicken cages at a market in Fuyang city, in central China's Anhui province on Sunday.

Tue, Apr 2, 2013, 20:07


Four more people in Jiangsu province in China were critically ill with a new form of bird flu yesterday, as cities along the eastern coast stepped up emergency response plans after a lesser-known strain of the virus left two men dead and a woman seriously ill.

The health bureau of eastern Jiangsu province said in a notice on its website that three women, aged 45, 48 and 32, and a man (83), from different cities in the province, were all critically ill with the H7N9 virus.

According to the bureau’s statement, only one of the patients appeared to come into daily contact with birds – the 45-year-old woman, who was a poultry butcher.

The diagnosis was confirmed by the provincial disease prevention centre, and these cases follow three in Anhui province and nearby Shanghai at the weekend.

H7N9 is a strain of avian flu not thought to have been transmitted to humans before. There is no vaccine against the strain.

The more virulent H5N1 strain ravaged poultry across Asia in 2003 and has since killed 360 people worldwide, mostly after close contact with infected birds.

All the patients have been sick since about March 19th, when they had fevers, coughs and other flu-like symptoms, the statement said.

Health experts said that authorities were testing for the virus, which explains the discoveries of cases.

On their official microblog, municipal authorities in Shanghai said they would launch a contingency plan. Although there were no details, the measures were believed to involve more stringent monitoring of suspect cases.

Health authorities in the capital Beijing also ratcheted up the city’s state of readiness, ordering hospitals to monitor for cases of bird flu and pneumonia without clear causes, the Xinhua News Agency reported.