BEIJING, April 13 (RIA Novosti) – Chinese health authorities reported on Saturday the first human infection with a new strain of bird flu in Beijing since the occurrence of the deadly virus in eastern parts of the country late last month, Xinhua news agency said.
A test by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention early on Saturday confirmed that a seven-year-old girl whose father is involved in live poultry trading has been infected with the H7N9 strain of avian influenza. The new strain has already claimed the lives of 11 people in China.
The new case raises the number of H7N9 infections in China to 44, with all the other 43 in the eastern parts of the country, Xinhua said.
According to official statistics, a total of 20 cases, including seven ending in fatalities, have been registered in Shanghai. Twelve cases, including one death, have been reported in Jiangsu, and two cases, including one death, in Anhui. Nine have been registered in Zhejiang, with two deaths.
Chinese health authorities have treated the infections so far as isolated cases and ruled out human-to-human transmission.
However, a fresh report by a team of Chinese experts, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, indicates that H7N9 causes unusually severe respiratory infection, sepsis and brain damage, and appears to be resistant to vaccination and treatment.
Experts also believe that the new virus has a high potential to cause a pandemic.
China has already taken various steps to curb the spread of H7N9 infections, including suspension of live poultry trade in affected areas, slaughter and incineration of poultry, and publicity campaigns among the population.