China reports 314 confirmed H7N9 avian flu cases
ROC Central News Agency
Taipei, Feb. 7 (CNA) The number of confirmed human cases of H7N9 avian influenza in China and Hong Kong has reached 314 since an outbreak on the mainland began last March, with 80 percent of the cases involving contact with poultry or wild birds, a Taiwanese health official said Friday, citing a report by Chinese health experts.
Chinese health authorities released the results of a study that analyzed 139 patients with confirmed H7N9 virus infection between late March and Dec. 1, 2013. The findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine, an international peer-reviewed medical journal.
Chou Jih-haw, deputy director-general of Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control (CDC), said the results of the study show that the median age of patients affected by the virus was 61 years old, with 71 percent of them male and 73 percent living in urban areas. The mortality rate was 34 percent, and 82 percent of them had contact with animals, mainly chickens and ducks.
According to an analysis of the family members of H7N9 victims, Chou said that patients' contacts were largely their family members and that the virus can only spread through prolonged close contact with an infected person.
The major conclusion of the study is that even though person-to-person spread of the virus cannot be ruled out, this type of transmission is limited and not constant.
Taiwan's H7N9 Central Epidemic Command Center said that currently, the H7N9-affected areas include Zhejiang Province, Guangdong Province, Jiangsu Province, Shanghai, Hunan Province, Guangxi Province, Guizhou Province, Beijing and Hong Kong.
The center has advised people traveling to China to avoid going to markets where live poultry is sold or coming in contact with wild birds and eggs and to stay away from uncooked meat and eggs. They are also advised to practice good personal hygiene, including frequent hand-washing.
(By Lung Jui-yun and Evelyn Kao)
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