Via Bloomberg.com: Shanghai Says Medical Worker Dies From H7N9 Bird Flu Infection. Excerpt:
A medical worker at a Shanghai hospital died from the H7N9 bird flu infection as the virus spreads further in China during the winter months.
The 31-year-old man died on Jan. 18, according to a statement on the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning website today. The city has reported 7 cases of H7N9 infections this year, the statement said.
Human cases of H7N9 were first reported in China in March and spiked in April before agriculture authorities temporarily closed live poultry markets to limit human exposure. The Geneva-based World Health Organization counted 139 laboratory-confirmed cases and 45 deaths as of Nov. 6.
“It’s always a concern when health workers die,” said Gregory Hartl, a spokesman for the World Health Organization in Geneva. “Hospitals and other medical facilities are a flash point for human-to-human transmission. We would be very much wanting to follow up in as much detail as possible on this case.”
Even though H7N9 hasn’t mutated to become as contagious as seasonal flu, strains that emerge in China are of special interest to researchers. The 1957-58 Asian Flu and 1968-69 Hong Kong Flu pandemics were first identified in the world’s most populous nation. Another bird flu strain known as H5N1 is thought to have come from the southern province of Guangdong in 1996.
“We need more evidence before increasing our level of concern,” said Ben Cowling, an associate professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Hong Kong’s school of public health on the Shanghai medical worker’s death.
“We know that there’s always potential risk for health-care workers treating cases of H7N9 to be infected, so it’s not unexpected.”