WHO team probes bird flu in Shanghai

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This Monday, April 15, 2013 electron microscope image provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the H7N9 virus which can take on a variety of shapes. Almost three weeks after China reported finding a new strain of bird flu in humans, experts are still stumped by how people are becoming infected when many appear to have had no recent contact with live fowl and the virus isn’t supposed to pass from person to person. Understanding how the H7N9 bird flu virus is spreading is a goal of international and Chinese experts assembled by the World Health Organization as they begin a weeklong investigation Friday, April 18, 2013. (AP Photo/CDC, C.S. Goldsmith, T. Rowe)

SHANGHAI – A World Health Organization team was due Monday to wrap up a trip to Shanghai, center of China’s bird flu outbreak which has killed 20 people, as part of an investigation into how the virus is spreading.

Since announcing on March 31 that H7N9 had been found in humans for the first time, China had confirmed a total of 102 cases in Shanghai and the capital Beijing as well as four provinces, the health ministry said Sunday.

“There has been no discovery of evidence of human-to-human transmission,” the ministry said in a statement.

Experts fear the prospect of such a virus mutating into a form easily transmissible between humans, which would then have the potential to trigger a pandemic.

Chinese health officials have acknowledged so-called “family clusters”, or members of a single family becoming infected, though they have so far declined to call this human-to-human transmission.

Chinese health officials and WHO representatives were to hold a news conference on Monday after the three-day visit by the UN health agency, the Shanghai government said.

The WHO representative in China, Michael O’Leary, said Friday that the purpose of the 15-member team’s week-long visit to China was to study whether H7N9 was spreading among humans.

“The primary focus of the investigation is to determine whether this is in fact spreading at a lower level among humans. But there is no evidence for that so far except in these very rare instances,” O’Leary said.

Health experts draw a difference between “sustained” human-to-human transmission and cases in which family members or medical personnel caring for the ill become infected.

The son of a man who was Shanghai’s first case of H7N9 was confirmed to have the virus after an initial test ruled it out, Chinese officials said last week.

The Shanghai government also said the husband of a woman confirmed with the virus had become sick with H7N9, but added there was not enough evidence to verify transmission between them.

“Family clusters in general do not change our understanding of the characteristics of the disease,” said Feng Zijian, an official of China’s disease control centre.

“It is still passed from poultry to people and there is no evidence of human-to-human transmission,” he said last Wednesday.

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  • dennis_genio

    I suspect that the main source of deadly viruses are due to weather!Don´t we know that only DURING SPRING AND FALL(AUTUMM) SEASON virus attack us?It has something to do with the condition of air (clean or contaminated) and most specially with the temperature! Just observe countries who had 4 seasons(spring,summer. autumm and winter)With the temperature between 5-15C can be the best for virus to live,regardless if it is contaminated or not?Definitely,this kind of virus will not live in a both extreme cold and hot weather countries.

  • dennis_genio

    Observe people who live in cold countries like Europe during Spring and Fall season? They suffer mostly in influenza virus or “grippe”? This is because of Temperature and not about being contaminated or not! Of course,Europe has more cleaner air in compare with over-populated China,but the question is WHY?

  • delpillar

    In temperate (cold) countries, during Autumn (Fall) to Spring is the time frame where in the humidity (in the air) is only about 15% to 30%. This percentage of humidity is where the aerial viruses like colds and flu can easily transfer and the easily reach the air tubes up to the lungs. Usually, viruses will trickle down to the air tubes on the throat about 25- to 30 minutes during normal/healthy humidity (35% to 55%). At dry air (or low humidity), viruses can go down to the throat within 20 minutes then go immediately to the bronchial tubes then to the lungs….. leaving no enough time for our anti-bodies to counter-attack.

    This is why in temperate countries, modern air conditioner has water molecules (and ion+) supplier function while heating the room or the whole house… regulating humidity to be at 40 to 45%.

    Also most colds and flu viruses are active when the mouth/nose and throat temperature is below 37degC. That is why it is important to have muffler and close neck jackets during cold season and avoid opening your mouth more frequently on cold surroundings because that is what viruses are waiting for.

    When viruses get into your mouth, throat, ad even to the the lungs:
    THE FIRST LINE of DEFENCE of the BODY (antibodies) is to INCREASE the BODY TEMP more than 37degC. Usually 38 to 39degC. If you are healthy and ages (15 to 55 years old), you are advised not to take medicine for FEVER (lowering body temperature).
    SIMPLY BECAUSE, our antibodies know that flu and colds viruses became weaker on higher temperature (more than 37 degC) and that is the time they counter-attack viruses). FEVER is a DEFENSE-MECHANISM of our body to fight colds/flu viruses.

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