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April 11, 2013

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City boy first to recover from H7N9 virus

A SHANGHAI boy has become the first person to fully recover from the new strain of bird flu that has claimed the lives of nine people in China.

The boy, aged three years and seven months, left the Children's Hospital of Fudan University yesterday but his condition will be carefully monitored over the next three days.

His recovery proves the disease is curable, hospital officials said.

Two patients in east China's Zhejiang Province are also showing signs of recovery.

Latest tests on a 51-year-old woman, who was diagnosed with H7N9 on Tuesday, came back negative, and a 67-year-old man diagnosed with H7N9 on April 3 was also recovering after being in a critical condition for days, officials said.

Lu Hongzhou, a professor with the Shanghai Public Health Clinic Center, said clinical observations had found that if a H7N9 patient can be given treatment no later than five days after developing flu symptoms, current methods can be effective in treating the disease.

It remains a mystery how the boy caught the H7N9 virus, Yu Hui, director of the Shanghai hospital's infectious diseases department, said.

The boy's family in suburban Jinshan District were raising four chickens and a duck when the boy went sick, but no infection was found on the birds, Yu said.

Close relatives were also checked but no trace of the virus was found.

The boy had a fever and runny nose on March 31 and was taken to a hospital in Jinshan the next day. His infection was confirmed last Wednesday and he was transferred to the children's hospital.

The boy took oseltamivir, an antiviral drug marketed as Tamiflu, twice a day for five days, said Yu.

Hospital officials said the boy's condition would be monitored over the next 72 hours.

He was allowed to leave hospital after two tests show no sign of the H7N9 virus, said Yu.

"The boy is not likely to catch the H7N9 bird flu again in a short time as he has developed an antibody against the virus," she added. "But we still don't know the cause of his illness."

Under normal circumstances, H7N9 patients will receive antiviral treatments. But other measures were necessary if patients were found suffering serious pneumonia or had respiratory failure, said Yu.

She said patients suffering from flu symptoms are now being carefully watched at the hospital. Those patients may be put under quarantine and samples taken for testing.


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