#H7N9 on the move! Taiwan gets first case. Says it came from China. 108 cases, 22 deaths. WHO Joint Task Force Press Conference
Taiwan First Case
Taiwan health authorities confirmed the island’s first human infection of H7N9 avian flu on Wednesday.
A 53-year-old Taiwanese man was confirmed to be infected with the new type of bird flu virus. The patient is believed to have been infected outside Taiwan as he showed symptoms three days after returning from Suzhou City in Jiangsu Province. The patient, who is Hepatitis-B-positive and suffers from high blood pressure, is in a serious condition. A total of 139 people who have had close contact with him are being monitored
Cases – Deaths
As of 24 April 2013 we have 108 cases and 22 deaths.
Joint Press Conference
Here are a few excerpts from the opening statement by Dr Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Health Security at the joint press conference on the China-WHO Joint Mission on H7N9 Assessment, 24 April 2013:
“First of all, we are impressed with the response by the Government of China. China has responded to this serious outbreak caused by a new influenza virus with strong leadership and a high level of commitment, and sound and effective strategies such as health education, communication and closure of live poultry market.”
“Almost all cases have been sporadic cases, but a few family clusters have been identified. However, we are not sure if the clusters were caused by common exposure to a source of virus or due to limited person to person transmission. Evidence so far is not sufficient to conclude there is person to person transmission. Moreover, no sustained person to person transmission has been found. We want to note that if limited person to person transmission is demonstrated in the future, it will not be surprising. Enhancing surveillance is the way to early detect such occurrence.”
He then made seven recommendations:
- Undertake intense and focused investigations to determine the source(s) of human H7N9 infections with a view to taking urgent action to prevent continuing virus spread and its potentially severe consequences for human and animal health.
- Maintain a high level of alert, preparedness and response for the H7N9 virus even though human cases might drop in the summer, as occurs with many other avian influenza viruses.
- Continue to conduct and strengthen both epidemiological and laboratory-based surveillance in human and animals in all Provinces of China to identify changes that might indicate the virus is spreading geographically and gaining the ability to infect people more easily.
- Ensure that there is frequent two-way sharing of information, close and timely communications and, when appropriate, coordinated or joint investigations and research between ministries of health, agriculture and forestry because this threat requires the combined efforts of these sectors.
- Continue high level scientific collaborations, communications and sharing of sequence data and viruses with WHO and international partners because the threat of H7N9 is also an international shared risk and concern.
- Encourage and foster the scientific and epidemiological studies and research needed to close major gaps in critical knowledge and understanding
- Continue preparedness planning and other IHR core capacity strengthening work because such investments make major differences in being ready to address health security risks and emergencies, including H7N9.