Bird flu death toll rises in China

World Health Organisation says four more deaths confirmed from new strain of H7N9 virus brings toll to 36.

Last Modified: 18 May 2013 00:12
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
The number of new cases has dwindled in some provinces, which have scaled back emergency operations [Reuters]

Four more people have died from a new strain of bird flu in China, bringing the death toll from the H7N9 virus to 36 from 131 confirmed cases, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.

The United Nations health agency said a written statement on Friday that the four deaths were from cases that had already been identified in laboratories.

It said here had been no new cases of infection with H7N9 Since May 8.

The WHO reiterated that there was no evidence that the new strain of bird flu, which was first detected in patients in China in March, was passing easily from human to human. If such a feature emerged it could spark a pandemic.

But it said: "Until the source of infection has been identified and controlled, it is expected that there will be further cases of human infection with the virus."

Nine labs open

The WHO said that Chinese health authorities had continued with enhanced surveillance, epidemiological investigations, close contact tracing, clinical management, laboratory testing and sharing of samples as well as prevention and control measures.

The number of new cases has dwindled in some provinces and operations

"In the past week, the Shanghai and Zhejiang provincial governments have started to normalise their emergency operations into their routine surveillance and response activities," the health organisation said.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has said that it has dedicated nine extra laboratories to help investigators track a deadly new respiratory virus related to SARS that appears to be centred in the kingdom.

The Health Ministry announcement on Thursday follows its report that two health care workers became ill this month after being exposed to patients with the virus.

Experts were closely studying whether it could spread easily from person to person.

The WHO had been informed of 40 confirmed cases of the virus since September 2012, mostly in Saudi Arabia but also in Europe and Jordan.

At least 20 people have died, including 15 reportedly in Saudi Arabia.

The virus has been compared to SARS, a pneumonia that surfaced in China in late 2002 and killed at least 774 people worldwide.

The WHO, which is closely monitoring the viruses, has said that the bird flu and SARS-like viruses had the potential to cause a global pandemic if they evolved into a form easily spread between people.


Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Absenteeism among doctors at government hospitals is rife, prompting innovative efforts to ensure they turn up for work.
Marginalised and jobless, desperate young men in Nairobi slums provide fertile ground for al-Shabab.
The Khmer Rouge tribunal is set to hear genocide charges for targeting ethnic Vietnamese and Cham Muslims.
'I'm dying anyway, one piece at a time' said Steve Fobister, who suffers from disabilities caused by mercury poisoning.
The world's newest professional sport comes from an unlikely source: video games.
join our mailing list