Via CIDRAP, Lisa Schnirring sums up a complicated day: New cases put H7N9 pace near last year's peak. Excerpt:
The pace of new H7N9 avian flu cases in China over the past week is rivaling the daily crush of infections that occurred during the first peak of activity last spring after the virus first emerged, with reports today of seven new illnesses, one of them fatal.
What began as a trickle of reports in October that signaled H7N9's resurgence in humans, primarily from poultry exposure, has expanded over the past few weeks to several cases reported each day. Thirty-one have been confirmed from Jan 10 through today, a number below but approaching the 38 cases reported during the peak week of disease activity, which began on Apr 8, 2013.
Experts contacted by CIDRAP News say the situation bears close monitoring but differed in their level of expressed concern over the situation.
The spike in activity comes as China enters a heavy travel and shopping period for its Spring Festival season, marked by the Lunar New Year celebration on Jan 31. China estimates that its citizens will make about 3.62 billion trips during the 40-day holiday travel rush, according to a report today from Xinhua, China's state news agency.
Against the backdrop in H7N9 activity, Chinese health officials have aired concerns about crowded travel conditions and the chance that people visiting urban areas could carry the virus back to their rural homes.
Today's report: 7 new cases, 1 fatal
Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection (CHP), citing official mainland sources, said that Guangdong, Fujian, and Zhejian provinces have two new H7N9 cases each, and Guizhou province has one. The patients are all adults, ages 20 to 76, and five are men. The six survivors are hospitalized, four of them in critical condition.
All of the provinces have reported several other cases recently, except for Guizhou, which is reporting its first H7N9 case, in a 38-year-old man got sick while working in Zhejiang province. News of his illness first appeared in media reports on Jan 13 that said he had a suspected infection, but his H7N9 illness has now been confirmed.
Guangdong province's cases involve a 59-year-old man from Guanzhou and a 76-year-old woman from Foshan, according to the CHP. Fujian province's new case-patients are both from the city of Quanzhou, a 30-year-old man, plus a 60-year-old man who had a history of poultry contact.
Meanwhile, Zhejiang province's patients are a 20-year-old woman from Hangzhou and a 58-year-old man from Taizhou, located about 171 miles southeast of the provincial capital.
The new cases push the H7N9 outbreak total to 188 cases and the number of deaths to 53.