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China Reports 4 More Cases Of H7N9 Bird Flu Virus; Officials Investigating Route Of Transmission

“On Tuesday, China reported four more cases of infection with the H7N9 influenza virus, a type of bird flu, in the eastern Jiangsu province,” Time reports. “These cases follow the first three reports of the disease on Sunday, from Shanghai and Anhui province,” the magazine adds (Sifferlin, 4/2). “The four new patients in China’s eastern Jiangsu province were all in critical condition and receiving emergency treatment, the Xinhua News Agency said, citing the Jiangsu provincial health bureau,” Reuters writes (4/2). “The officials said laboratory tests had confirmed that all four were infected with a strain of bird flu identified as H7N9, which was not found in humans before the Shanghai cases,” according to the New York Times, which notes, “The government said Monday in Shanghai that no link was found between the bird flu virus and the 15,000 dead pigs found recently in the Huangpu River” (Barboza, 4/2). “It is unclear how the [patients] got infected, and no mutual infections were discovered among them, said the National Health and Family Planning Commission,” Xinhua adds (4/2).

“The China Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) in Beijing confirmed the [first] cases on 29 March,” according to George Gao, the agency’s deputy director general, Science Insider reports, adding, “While there is no evidence of airborne transmission, Gao says, the possibility had not yet been ruled out as of Monday, and China CDC researchers are now investigating the matter” (Hvistendahl, 4/2). “Scientists taking a first look at the genetics of the bird flu strain … said Wednesday that the virus could be harder to track than its better-known cousin H5N1 because it might be able to spread silently among poultry without notice,” the Associated Press notes (4/2).”[T]he Beijing Municipal Bureau of Public Health released a statement that medical facilities in China’s capital are now taking extra precautions to screen for the virus, as Xinhua News reported on Tuesday,” Bloomberg Businessweek writes, noting, “Beijing hospitals are already stocking up on relevant medical equipment, stepping up screenings, and preparing for the possibility of avian flu-related emergencies” (Larson, 4/2). “The statement said all hospitals in Beijing have been asked to brace for emergencies and ensure enough medical supplies although no infection has been reported in the city as of Tuesday,” Xinhua adds in a separate article (4/2).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.