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April 11, 2013

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City reports two more cases

SHANGHAI reported two new cases of H7N9 bird flu infection yesterday, taking the city's total to 15, including five deaths.

Nine patients are now being treated in isolation, the Shanghai Health and Family Planning Commission said, while a boy was allowed home after recovering from his infection.

The new cases were women. Both are stable and their close contacts have shown no flu-like symptoms so far.

One of them, a 76-year-old retiree, started to feel sick and had a cough and a sore throat on April 1. She developed a fever the following day. Last Friday she went to Huashan Hospital for treatment and was diagnosed with pneumonia.

She tested positive for the virus on Tuesday night, the Shanghai Center for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The other patient, an 81-year-old farmer, started to have diarrhea and a fever last Thursday and went to Pudong Hospital where she was treated for acute enteritis.

But she went back to the hospital after her condition failed to improve. This time she was diagnosed with pneumonia and she also tested positive for the H7N9 virus on Tuesday night.

The other seven patients are being treated at the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center. Five are in a critical condition and on respirators.

No medical staff treating and caring for the seven patients have developed flu-like symptoms.

More than half the city's cases were people over the age of 60, and officials from the Shanghai Health and Family Planning Commission said that may be because older people are more vulnerable to the virus and more likely to develop severe symptoms because of weaker lung function.

Next week crucial

Officials said the next week would be a crucial period to determine the source of infection.

"Shanghai ordered a complete shutdown of live poultry business and a block on live poultry from other provinces since last Saturday," said Song Guofan, a health commission official. "H7N9 cases usually develop serious symptoms about 10 days after infection. So if there are no new cases 10 days after we shut down the live poultry business, it means that the infection source is these live poultry. If there are still new cases being detected, the authority should look for other possibilities."

Meanwhile, Shanghai has designated 11 slaughterhouses to kill live poultry reared in the city in a bid to prevent the bird flu strain spreading, agricultural officials said yesterday.

There will be quarantine inspections before and after slaughter to determine any H7N9 infection and results will be reported daily to the Shanghai Animal Health Inspection Institute, the officials said.

The city's animal disease prevention and control center said it tested 453 samples collected from poultry yesterday and all were negative.

Local farmers are to be compensated for their losses.

Breeding poultry farms will be paid 15 yuan (US$2.42) for each bird and 0.5 yuan for each chick expected to hatch between April 6 and April 27, the Shanghai Agricultural Commission said.

For ordinary poultry farms, payments will range from 0.2 yuan for quail to 5 yuan for laying hens.

Shanghai closed all poultry farms and suspended the trade in live poultry last Saturday.

On Tuesday, city and district-level animal health inspectors checked quarantine and disinfection measures at 1,205 poultry farms, 18 wholesale markets, 19 cold storage supermarkets and 752 related companies, officials said.


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