China reports first human case of H10N3 bird flu

By Dominique Patton and Hallie Gu

BEIJING (Reuters) -A 41-year-old man in China’s eastern province of Jiangsu has been confirmed as the first human case of infection with a rare strain of bird flu known as H10N3, China’s National Health Commission (NHC) said on Tuesday.

Many different strains of bird flu are present in China and some sporadically infect people, usually those working with poultry. There is no indication that H10N3 can spread easily in humans.

The man, a resident of the city of Zhenjiang, was hospitalized on April 28 and diagnosed with H10N3 on May 28, the health commission said. It did not give details on how the man was infected.

He is now stable and ready to be discharged. Investigation of his close contacts found no other cases, the NHC said. No other cases of human infection with H10N3 have been reported globally, it said.

H10N3 is low pathogenic, which means it causes relatively less severe disease in poultry and is unlikely to cause a large-scale outbreak, the NHC added.

The strain is “not a very common virus,” said Filip Claes, regional laboratory coordinator of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases at the regional office for Asia and the Pacific.

Only around 160 isolates of the virus were reported in the 40 years to 2018, mostly in wild birds or waterfowl in Asia and some limited parts of North America, and none had been detected in chickens so far, he added.

Analyzing the genetic data of the virus will be necessary to determine whether it resembles older viruses or if it is a novel mix of different viruses, Claes said.

There have been no significant numbers of human infections with bird flu since the H7N9 strain killed around 300 people during 2016-2017.

(Reporting by Hallie Gu and Dominique Patton, Additional reporting by Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago; Editing by Richard Pullin, Barbara Lewis and Steve Orlofsky)

Top U.S. chicken producing state suffers first case of bird flu

quarantine researcher checking chickens on poultry farm for bird flu

By Tom Polansek

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Georgia has confirmed its first-ever case of bird flu in commercial poultry, its agriculture department said on Monday, widening an outbreak of the disease into the United States’ biggest chicken meat-producing state.

A flock of 18,000 chickens used for breeding was culled after testing positive for H7 bird flu, according to the agriculture department. It said the birds in far northwestern Georgia were likely infected with a form of the virus that is not highly lethal because the flock did not show signs of illness.

The discovery came after officials in Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee confirmed cases of highly pathogenic, or lethal, and low pathogenic H7N9 bird flu in breeding operations this month. U.S. officials have said the risk of the disease spreading to people from poultry or making food unsafe is low.

But the spread of highly pathogenic bird flu to poultry in new states would represent a financial risk for meat companies because it could kill more birds or require flocks to be culled. It could also trigger more import bans from other countries after South Korea and other buyers limited U.S. poultry shipments following highly pathogenic cases in Tennessee.

The worst-ever U.S. outbreak of highly pathogenic bird flu in poultry in 2014 and 2015 killed about 50 million birds, most of which were egg-laying hens in Iowa.

More than 200,000 breeding chickens in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky have been killed in recent weeks by high and low pathogenic bird flu or culled to contain the virus, according to state officials. U.S. poultry producers had about 55.1 million breeder hens on hand as of March 1, according to the USDA.

In 2015, Georgia produced 7.9 billion pounds of chicken meat valued at $4.2 billion, the agency said.

“Poultry is the top sector of our number one industry, agriculture, and we are committed to protecting the livelihoods of the many farm families that are dependent on it,” Gary Black, Georgia’s agriculture commissioner, said in a statement.

Some companies are still feeling pressure related to the 2015 losses.

On Monday, Cal-Maine Foods, the biggest U.S. egg producer, said its quarterly sales fell about 32 percent from a year ago because prices were under pressure after farmers increased production in response to an outbreak two years ago.

(Reporting by Tom Polansek; Editing by Andrew Hay)

Hard to detect, China bird flu virus may be more widespread

quarantine researcher checking chickens on poultry farm for bird flu

By Dominique Patton

BEIJING (Reuters) – Bird flu infection rates on Chinese poultry farm

BEIJING (Reuters) – Bird flu infection rates on Chinese poultry farms may be far higher than previously thought, because the strain of the deadly virus that has killed more than 100 people this winter is hard to detect in chickens and geese, animal health experts say.

s may be far higher than previously thought, because the strain of the deadly virus that has killed more than 100 people this winter is hard to detect in chickens and geese, animal health experts say.

Poultry that have contracted the H7N9 strain of the avian flu virus show little or no sign of symptoms. That means any infection is only likely to be detected if farmers or health authorities carry out random tests on a flock, the experts said.

But in humans, it can be deadly.

That’s different to other strains, such as the highly pathogenic H5N6 that struck South Korean farms in December, prompting the government to call in the army to help cull some 26 million birds.

But that strain didn’t kill any people.

There have been multiple outbreaks of bird flu around the world in recent months, with at least half a dozen different strains circulating. The scale of the outbreaks and range of viral strains increases the chances of viruses mixing and mutating, with new versions that can spread more easily between people, experts say.

For now, H7N9 is thought to be relatively difficult to spread between people. China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention has said the vast majority of people infected by H7N9 reported exposure to poultry, especially at live markets.

“There are very few, if any, clinical signs when this (H7N9) virus infects birds, and that’s the main reason we’re not seeing reporting coming from poultry farms in China,” said Matthew Stone, deputy director general for International Standards and Science at the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).


As many as 79 people died from H7N9 bird flu in China in January alone, up to four times higher than the same month in past years.

While spikes in contamination rates are normal in January – the main influenza season – the high level of human infections has prompted fears the spread of the virus among people could be the highest on record – especially as the number of bird flu cases reported by farmers has been conspicuously low.

The high number of human infections points to a significant outbreak in the poultry population that is not being detected, says Guan Yi, director of the State Key Laboratory of Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Center of Influenza Research at the University of Hong Kong.

“If we have so many human infections, naturally it reflects activity, an intensive outbreak in chickens. They are highly associated,” he said.

China has the world’s largest flock of chickens, ducks and geese, and slaughtered more than 11 billion birds for meat in 2014, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The last major bird flu outbreak in China, in 2013, killed 36 people and cost the farming industry around $6.5 billion.


The experts’ assessment underscores the challenge for China’s government and health ministry in monitoring and controlling the H7N9 outbreak in both people and poultry.

While, with few visible signs of infection in birds, it’s easier for farmers to flout the reporting rules and continue selling poultry at market, Stone at the OIE said China has a “very significant” surveillance program at live markets.

The government promised on Thursday to tighten controls on markets and poultry transport to help battle the virus.

The agriculture ministry last month collected more than 102,000 serum samples and 55,000 virological samples from birds in 26 provinces. Of the latter samples, only 26 tested positive for the virus, according to data on the ministry’s website.

But the rapid rise in human infections and spread to a wider geographic area is likely to increase pressure on Beijing to do more poultry testing at markets and on farms.

The ministry did not respond to faxed questions on its surveillance efforts.

The National Health and Family Planning Commission said on Thursday the spread of H7N9 among people was slowing.

Some Chinese netizens have called for more timely reports on infections, and some experts have said China has been slow to respond to the human outbreak. The authorities have warned the public to stay alert for the virus, cautioning against panic.

Others played down the threat to humans, as long as they stay away from live markets.

“As scientists, we should be watching this outbreak and the effectiveness of any control measures,” said Ian Mackay, a virologist and associate professor at the University of Queensland in Australia. “We don’t have a vaccine available for H7N9 in humans, but we do have effective antivirals.”

“So far, the virus does not spread well between humans,” he added. “As members of the public, who do not seek out live poultry from markets in China, we have almost nothing to worry about from H7N9 right now.”

(Reporting by Dominique Patton in BEIJING, with additional reporting by Ben Hirschler in LONDON; Editing by Josephine Mason and Ian Geoghegan)

Bird Flu Claims Another Life In Hong Kong

The H7N9 bird flu has claimed another victim in Hong Kong.

The death marks the third death in the city since the arrival of the virus from China.  The male victim, who has recently visited the Chinese city of Shenzhen, was admitted to the hospital less than 24 hours before he died.

The World Health Organization has been quietly using a new term when talking about transmission of the virus between humans.  Studies of cases in China show that it is possible to transfer the virus between people so the term “sustained human-to-human transmission” is being used meaning that they don’t see infections happening on a mass scale.

The changes have happened since the virus was spotted in both Taiwan and Hong Kong, raising fears the virus is making its way out of China toward emerging nations that are not ready to handle the deadly virus.

The H7N9 virus was discovered last week at a Hong Kong market resulting in the slaughter of 20,000 birds.

H7N9 Mutation Resists Drugs

A mutation discovered in a new strain of bird flu has rendered the virus resistant to treatment drugs without limiting its ability to spread.

Most seasonal flu strains often become less transmissible when developing drug resistance, but scientists discovered that the H7N9 bird flu does not lose any of its spreading potential even with drug resistance.

Researchers said they do not believe this will make H7N9 any more likely to develop into a pandemic, but do recommend that doctors should be careful in their use of anti-viral medicines and consider using other drugs instead of Tamiflu to treat H7N9 cases.

The H7N9 bird flu has infected at least 139 people so far in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, and has killed 45 people.

Scientists Discover Disturbing Fact Regarding H7N9 Bird Flu

It had been a long established scientific fact that when a flu virus obtained an immunity to particular anti-viral flu medications, they would become less effective in transmission between humans.

Now scientists have found the deadly H7N9 bird flu in China does not lose any of its infectivity when it becomes resistant to commonly used drugs like Tamiflu.

The researchers were quick to add that the drug-resistant H7N9 was not more infectious than in the past. They reiterated that the virus is one of the less transmittable viruses between humans.

H7N9 emerged earlier this year in China and has killed 45 of the 139 people confirmed to have been infected with the virus. Scientists had initially believed H7N9 could not transmit between humans but found cases in August of human-to-human transmission.

A separate study in the United States this week said that it was not impossible for H7N9 to mutate into a form that could be easily passed among humans.

Second Bird Flu Case Confirmed In Hong Kong

Health officials in Hong Kong have quarantined 19 people after a second man has been found infected with the deadly H7N9 bird flu.

The latest case is an 80-year-old man who normally lives in the mainland China city of Shenzhen.

The man developed a fever and was taken to a hospital Friday where later tests revealed the deadly virus. Government officials then rounded up 19 people who had close contact with the elderly victim for testing and safety reasons.

According to sources, one of the 19 people had an “indeterminate” test meaning it’s possible they have been infected. The other 18 have tested negative.

Officials said they are investigating if the latest victim had contact with poultry while he was on the Chinese mainland. Investigators found no link between the latest victim and the first case discovered last week. That patient remains in critical condition.

The World Health Organization says that 138 human cases of H7N9 have been confirmed in China this year with 45 deaths.

Hong Kong Confirms First Bird Flu Case

Health officials in Hong Kong have announced confirmation of the country’s first case of H7N9 bird flu.

The announcement is a sign that the deadly virus is spreading beyond the borders of mainland China.

The announcement of the confirmed case comes on the 10th anniversary of the outbreak of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) that killed 300 people in Hong Kong and seriously damaged the country’s travel and retail industry.

The 36-year-old H7N9 victim reportedly traveled to Shenzhen in mainland China and had contact with poultry during his visit. Officials say the patient is in critical condition in a Hong Kong hospital.

FOX News: New China H7N9 bird flu cases ‘signal potential winter epidemic’

Fresh human cases in eastern China of a deadly new strain of bird flu signal the potential for “a new epidemic wave” of the disease in coming winter months, scientists said on Thursday.

The strain, known as H7N9, emerged for the first time in humans earlier this year and killed around 45 of the some 135 people it infected before appearing to peter out in China During the summer.

But a new case in October in a 35-year-old man from China’s eastern Zhejiang province shows that the virus “has re-emerged in winter 2013” and “indicates a possible risk of a larger outbreak of H7N9 this winter,” according to Chinese researchers writing in the online journal Euro surveillance.

Source: FOX News – FOX News: New China H7N9 bird flu cases ‘signal potential winter epidemic’

Chinese Scientists Blame H7N9 Outbreak On Ducks

Chinese researchers investigating the evolution of the H7N9 bird flu virus that has killed 43 people out of 133 confirmed human cases claim that ducks are the “melting pot” bringing the virus to chickens.

The study claims that ducks picked up various viruses from migrating birds which then mutated and were passed on to chickens. The infected chickens then gave the disease to humans at various animal markets. Continue reading