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April 9, 2013

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Retired Shanghai man, 64, the latest bird flu infection victim

A 64-YEAR-OLD retired man in Shanghai is the latest victim of the H7N9 bird flu virus, the city government said yesterday.

His death brought the city's total number of infections to 11, with five deaths.

The other six patients are still undergoing treatment in isolation, the Shanghai Health and Family Planning Commission said yesterday.

However, one of them, a 4-year-old boy in the Children's Hospital of Fudan University, has almost recovered, officials said.

Shanghai's latest case suffered from a cold on April 1. He started to develop a fever and went to the city's Ruijin Hospital two days later where he was treated after being diagnosed with pneumonia. But his symptoms were not serious and he was allowed to go home.

On Sunday, he felt short of breath and went back to the hospital at 9:15am. This time he was diagnosed with severe pneumonia and admitted to be treated in isolation.

He died at 6:45pm the same day. He was confirmed as having the H7N9 virus by the Shanghai Center for Disease Control and Prevention that evening.

None of the patient's four close contacts had exhibited flu-like symptoms, officials said.

The health commission said he wasn't detected with the infection on his first visit to Ruijin, because his symptoms weren't serious.

It said the large number of patients suffering from the cold every day made it impossible to carry out blood tests on all patients. The main targets of H7N9 tests were people with severe symptoms or those who had been in close contact with poultry and birds, officials said.

Currently, there is no requirement for hospitals to test every patient with cold or flu-like symptoms for the virus.

Of the 202 close contacts in Shanghai's 11 cases, only two people have exhibited flu-like symptoms and they have both tested negative for H7N9.

Sun Lei, director of the Shanghai Agricultural Commission, said yesterday: "The H7N9 bird flu viruses detected from poultry were mainly imported infections, as all poultry samples being detected with H7N9 bird flu virus were from wholesale or retail market but no samples from local poultry farms tested positive for the virus."

"All poultry farms are clean of the virus, so products from local farms are safe to eat," he said.

Shanghai consumes about 130 million birds a year. Only 20 percent is from local farms, while 80 percent is imported from other provinces, mainly from Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui, the only other regions reporting H7N9 bird flu cases.

Shanghai shut all live poultry wholesale and retail markets and halted live poultry sales after 20 samples from three markets were detected with the H7N9 virus. By Sunday night, a total of 111,122 poultry in the three markets had been slaughtered and properly disposed of to prevent the H7N9 virus spreading.

"Shutting live poultry business can effectively prevent the import of H7N9 virus," Sun said. "Wider monitoring on poultry and birds, especially poultry farms and migrant bird habitats, will be launched for H7N9 screening."

Sun said poultry farmers and business owners will receive subsidies to help offset their financial losses during the crisis.


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