Cases of new bird flu spread on Chinese coast

  • Article by: DAVID BARBOZA
  • New York Times
  • April 2, 2013 - 8:41 PM


– China said Tuesday that four more people in the coastal part of the country have been infected with a new strain of bird flu, which is believed to have killed two Shanghai residents last month and left one person in critical condition.

The four new patients, ages 32 to 83, were hospitalized and critically ill, according to a government website that cited the authorities in Nanjing, in Jiangsu Province northwest of Shanghai. The officials said laboratory tests had confirmed that all four were infected with a strain of bird flu identified as H7N9, not found in humans before the Shanghai deaths.

The cases are troubling because there is no vaccine for H7N9 and because another strain of bird flu, identified as H5N1, killed hundreds of people in Asia beginning in 2003 and led to the deaths of tens of millions of birds.

The World Health Organization says that most H5N1 cases had involved contact with infected poultry. One of the four people infected with H7N9 is a poultry butcher. Health authorities had previously reported that H7N9 could not easily be contracted by humans, and officials said that no one who had contact with the four infected patients had developed symptoms.

The agency said it was told about the three Shanghai cases by Chinese health authorities Sunday. The two who died there were men 27 and 87; the critically ill patient there is a 35-year-old woman from neighboring Anhui Province.

In Nanjing, the authorities said late Tuesday that all four infected individuals were from Jiangsu Province: one each from the cities of Nanjing, Suzhou and Wuxi and one from Shuyang County. One is male and three are female, they said; two began to develop flu symptoms March 19.

The government in Shanghai on Monday that no link had been discovered between the bird flu virus and the 15,000 dead pigs found recently in the Huangpu River. City officials have not yet explained how or why the pig carcasses wound up there.

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