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April 23, 2013

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Poultry contact in city's H7N9 cases

Thirty out of 32 H7N9 cases in Shanghai involved direct or indirect contact with poultry or infected patients, health officials said yesterday. An investigation into the city's 33rd case is still under way.

Shanghai reported another death yesterday, bringing the number of fatalities from the infection to 12. Thirteen patients are still receiving treatment, while eight people have recovered.

The Shanghai Health and Family Planning Commission said an 86-year-old Shanghai man surnamed Duan who was confirmed with the virus on April 12 died on Sunday night.

No 'sustained' transmission

World Health Organization officials said in Shanghai yesterday that there was no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission, despite two family clusters in Shanghai - a father and son and a couple.

Experts from a joint WHO-China team praised the work done in the city to prevent and control the disease at a news briefing.

The team arrived in Shanghai on Saturday to investigate and assess how the city was dealing with the H7N9 outbreak.

Keiji Fukuda, a WHO assistant director-general and a member of the joint team, said whenever there were cases of family clusters, they would study whether the cases had been exposed to the same infected animal or environment and whether there was the possibility of person-to-person transmission.

"We don't know the answer with the small cases and small clusters here and can't explain the small clusters with the information available," he said.

He said the virus kept changing and Shanghai had to remain on high alert for new cases and carry out analysis and investigation whenever detecting abnormal cases. He said quick responses, information sharing and openness and coordination between different authorities were key.

Shanghai health officials said the number of new cases in the city had been dropping over the past 10 days.

"All detected cases so far started to develop symptoms before April 13," said Xu Jianguang, director of the health commission.

Yang Weizhong, deputy director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Chinese leader of the joint team, said information openness, effective surveillance and the quick closure of poultry markets were all effective in controlling H7N9.

"About 60 to 70 percent of viruses come from animals. Shanghai should have a long-term consideration for the live poultry trade after the H7N9 epidemic ends," Yang said. "Stricter management of live poultry markets and unified slaughtering, transportation and processing should be introduced for disease control."


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