Via the South China Morning Post, an AFP report: January worst month in China’s human H7N9 outbreak. Excerpt:
A total of 31 people died from H7N9 bird flu in mainland China in January, the government announced on Monday, making it by far the worst month in the outbreak.
There were a total of 127 confirmed human H7N9 cases in January, according to a statement by the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC).
The number is almost as high as for the whole of last year, when China had 144 confirmed cases including 46 deaths.
Flu viruses are seasonal and the first human cases emerged in February last year, so that the outbreak did not encompass all of last winter.
It has reignited fears that a bird flu virus could mutate to become easily transmissible between people, threatening to trigger a pandemic.
But NHFPC spokesman Yao Hongwen told a press conference: “So far the features of human infection of the H7N9 bird flu have not had obvious changes and most cases remained sporadic.
“Our monitoring has not found any ... mutation in the virus and the way the virus spreads remains poultry-to-human.”
The World Health Organisation also says there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission.
Chinese researchers are developing vaccines for the disease and one has passed a safety test on animals, Yao added.
But according to reports clinical trials in humans have yet to begin.
According to a tally of local government announcements, so far there have been at least 180 cases reported this year, including 33 deaths.