Via Shanghai Daily: 20 bird flu deaths so far but epidemic ‘unlikely’. Excerpt:
The H7N9 bird flu virus has killed 20 people in China this year, with the total number of human infections now 102, according to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
That compares with 144 confirmed cases, including 46 deaths, in the whole of 2013.
But Shu Yuelong, director of the Chinese National Influenza Center, said a large-scale H7N9 epidemic is unlikely during the Spring Festival holiday, as no H7N9 virus mutation that could affect public health has been identified so far, Xinhua news agency reported.
“There is no evidence of constant inter-human transmission, and the risk assessment of H7N9 epidemic outbreak is unchanged,” said Shu.
Shu reiterated that H7N9 is more prone to human infection than H5N1, with H7N9 case fatality rate reaching 20 to 30 percent.
Twelve people have been killed by H7N9 bird flu in Zhejiang Province this month.
More than half of China’s cases this year have been in Zhejiang, with another 24 in Guangdong in the south.
Shanghai has reported eight cases of H7N9 bird flu this year, with four deaths including a 31-year-old emergency room doctor and a 77-year-old farmer.
Guangdong Province also reported four deaths of H7N9 bird flu so far this year.
It was not clear whether the rise in reported cases is due to the virus becoming more widespread and possibly less severe, or detection and treatment improving. Cases and deaths dropped significantly after the end of June, but have begun to pick up with the onset of winter.