Avian influenza virus has reached Beijing

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Spread of avian influenza H7N9 apparently unstoppable

More and more people in China are suffering from the so far little-known bird flu virus H7N9. In the meantime, the first infection has also been detected in Beijing. According to the Chinese news agency "Xinhua", "the number of bird flu infections with the evidence in the seven-year-old girl in Beijing increased to 44 throughout China". Eleven of those affected did not survive the H7N9 infection.

The deputy director of the Municipal Health Bureau in Beijing, Zhong Dongbo, said at a recent press conference that the infected girl is currently being treated at the "Beijing Ditan Hospital and is in a stable condition." Official H7N9 exciter also confirmed in Beijing. The previous infections only affected Shanghai and the surrounding provinces.

Influenza experts: anything is possible Given the increased evidence of H7N9 infections in China, there is growing concern among influenza experts worldwide. So Dr. explained Keiji Fukuda, of the World Health Organization (WHO), that "almost anything you can imagine is currently possible". In the end, however, "things that you can't imagine would likely happen," stressed the influenza expert, who also worked for the United States Health Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for several years before joining WHO. In the worst case, a variant of the avian influenza virus that can be transmitted from person to person could develop or already have developed, which brings about a worldwide spread of infections in the form of a pandemic.

Pathway of infection has not been conclusively clarified So far, it has not been clarified in which way those affected have been infected with the bird flu virus. However, according to the experts, it currently does not seem "as if the virus is spreading from person to person". In this way, people who "had close contact with the infected girl in Beijing had no flu symptoms." However, the child's parents work in the live poultry trade, so infection could have occurred in this way. The seven-year-old girl was admitted to the Beijing Ditan Clinic on Thursday morning with severe flu symptoms or high fever, cough, sore throat and headache, where she was subsequently diagnosed with severe pneumonia. In the meantime, the girl was treated in the intensive care unit after her condition initially deteriorated on Friday.

Unstoppable spread of H7N9 flu viruses Since the first death in China due to infection with the H7N9 virus was identified about a month ago, the Chinese authorities and the World Health Organization have been alarmed. Possible distribution channels are analyzed on site and known infection risks are eliminated. For example, after the detection of the pathogen in pigeons in Shanghai, the authorities had thousands of birds, especially ducks, chickens, geese and pigeons, killed as a precaution. The trade in live poultry on the markets in Shanghai was initially prevented and poultry stocks in other regions were to be protected by vaccinations. However, the efforts apparently could not prevent the spread of the pathogens to Beijing. The initially locally limited wave of infections appears to be developing into an epidemic that could eventually spread to other countries. Not least for this reason, the health authorities in numerous countries have offered China their support in combating H7N9 infections.

Open handling of the bird flu threat The Chinese authorities have been praised for the relatively open handling of the possible health threat posed by the bird flu virus. When the SARS pandemic started in China around ten years ago, behavior here was initially largely characterized by secrecy and cover-up. Currently, most of the available information has been released by the official side in a timely manner. However, the Chinese media also asked why 27 days passed between the first H7N9 death and its public confirmation. The competent authorities said that the confirmation of the cause of death took so long because the virus had never been identified in humans. (fp)

Also read:
No all-clear for bird flu virus H7N9

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