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China Reports Additional Deaths From H7N9; Scientists Work To Uncover Source

“China reported two more fatalities from a new strain of avian flu [H7N9] on Tuesday, bringing the death toll to nine, and raised the total number of infections by four to 28 as the government renewed efforts to combat the spread of the disease,” the Wall Street Journal reports (Tejada/Burkitt, 4/9). However, Reuters reports “31 confirmed cases of the virus, all in eastern China, according to data from the National Health and Family Planning Commission” (Sweeney et al., 4/10). “Chinese authorities say they do not know how the virus is spreading, though it is believed the infection is passing from birds to humans,” Agence France-Presse writes (Savadove, 4/9). “Scientists urgently want to find out which sources are stoking the human infections that result in flu-like symptoms and, in most reported cases, severe pneumonia,” Nature reports, adding, “So far, investigations of the cases remain largely inconclusive: some patients had contact with poultry or other animals just before falling ill, whereas others had not” (Butler, 4/9). “All possible steps to monitor and contain the spread of the H7N9 influenza virus in China are being taken by local authorities,” a WHO spokesperson said on Tuesday, the U.N. News Centre reports (4/9).

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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.