China Investigating New Deadly Bird Flu Strain
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China Investigating New Deadly Bird Flu Strain

China Investigating New Deadly Bird Flu Strain

Shannon Van Sant

December 19, 2013

Shortly after visiting a poultry market in Jiangxi Province, a 73-year-old woman died from a new strain of bird flu called H10N8.  She passed away on December 6, just six days after she contracted the disease.

Dr. Bernhard Schwartlander, the WHO representative in China, says the quick diagnosis of the bird flu that killed her reflects the increased strength of the country’s surveillance systems.

“The fact that Chinese authorities detected this case in a 73-year-old woman that had other medical conditions actually shows that the active surveillance system, the active alert system, is actually working quite well,” explained Schwartlander.

Earlier this year, some 100 people were infected with the H7N9 strain of avian flu and China responded with increased testing and reporting of similar outbreaks.

The H10N8 virus had previously been detected in Guangdong Province and lived in poultry for many years.  The WHO’s Schwartlander said the first fatality from the virus is a worrisome development.  “This the first case that we detected the virus in a human being,” he said.

In 2002 and 2003, China came under international criticism for its slow public acknowledgement of the deadly epidemic called SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, that eventually killed more than 700 people. As health authorities tracked the outbreak, officials discouraged the domestic media from reporting on the incident and held back information from WHO researchers.

China’s health systems have improved since, but some experts say the country’s surveillance of laboratory-confirmed infections remains underdeveloped.

The elderly woman who died this week frequently visited live poultry markets and was admitted to the hospital on November 30.  She suffered from high blood pressure and heart disease, which likely lowered her immunity.

via China Investigating New Deadly Bird Flu Strain.

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