China's bird flu death toll rises to 16
Beijing, April 17, 2013
Two more people in China have died from a new strain of avian influenza, bringing to 16 the number of deaths from the H7N9 virus, and the government has warned that the number of infections could rise.
The latest victims were from the commercial capital of Shanghai, where the majority of the 77 cases have been found, the official Xinhua news agency reported late on Tuesday.
The exact source of infection remains unknown and no human-to-human spread of the virus has been confirmed.
Samples have tested positive in some birds in poultry markets that remain the focus of investigations by China and the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
"Because the source of the infection has not been effectively controlled, it is possible that the number of cases of infections could continue to rise," Xinhua said, quoting a risk assessment of the virus by the National Health and Family Planning Commission.
Zeng Guang, the chief scientist in charge of epidemiology at the China Disease Prevention and Control Centre (CDPCC), said about 40 per cent of the victims have no clear history of poultry exposure, the Beijing News newspaper reported on Wednesday.
"How did these people get infected? It's a mystery," Zeng was quoted as saying.
According to a Reuters analysis of the infections, based on state media reports, only 10 out of the 77 victims as of Tuesday have had contact with poultry.
The CDPCC declined to comment when asked by Reuters.
The panic over bird flu has caused many Chinese to shun eating chicken for fear of catching the virus.
China's poultry sector has recorded losses of more than $1.6 billion since reports emerged of the new strain two weeks ago, an official at the country's National Poultry Industry Association said on Tuesday.
Authorities have slaughtered thousands of birds and closed live poultry markets in Shanghai and Beijing in an attempt to reduce the rate of human infection.
An international team of flu experts will go to China this week to help with investigations into the virus, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Tuesday.
China said on Sunday the virus had spread outside the Yangtze River delta region in eastern China, with cases reported in the capital Beijing and the central province of Henan. - Reuters
More INTERNATIONAL NEWS Stories
- Military denies lost plane's flight to Malacca
- Investors monitoring Pimco after internal strife
- N Korea tanker ‘leaves Libya rebel port carrying oil’
- Malaysia plane incident not terror related: Interpol
- Crimea closes air space to commercial flights
- Missing Malaysian plane last seen At Malacca Strait
- Stolen passport holder on missing plane is Iranian
- China deploys 10 satellites to search for Malaysia jet
- Libya says halts tanker outside port; rebels deny it
- Libya orders military force to 'liberate' ports
- Big bananas: Chiquita, Fyffes merge
- Radar sweeps, dozens of aircraft, but no sign of plane
- N Korea tanker loads oil at Libya rebel port
- Gold drops as US growth optimism weighs
- Merkel raps Putin; Russia tightens grip on Crimea
- World 'at sea' over missing Malaysian jetliner
- Passports requiring probe were on Malaysia flight
- 40 killed in Yemen as Houthi fighters near capital
- Vietnam finds object in sea; search on
- $5bn poll spend to boost India economy
- Libya authorises use of force against Korean tanker
- Ukraine PM says he will go to US to discuss crisis
- Syrian journalist killed covering fighting
- Malaysian jet may have turned back before vanishing
- No sign of missing plane; Malaysia probes false passports
- Two Europeans not on board 'missing' Malaysian jet
- China draws red line on North Korea
- Saudi sentences three to death for 2003 bombing
- First bitcoin machine opens in UK
- US sanctions will boomerang, warns Russia