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H7N9 avian influenza: Zhejiang woman becomes 150th confirmed case

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A 34-year-old woman from Zhejiang Province on the eastern coast of China has been confirmed positive for avian influenza A(H7N9), according to a Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection (CHP) press release Jan. 5.

The notification from the China National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) said the patient developed symptoms one week ago (Dec. 29) and was hospitalized Jan. 2 and is currently being treated. She is currently in critical condition.

Laboratory confirmation for avian influenza A(H7N9) virus on the woman's specimen was completed by Zhejiang health authorities on Jan.4.

Their are no details on the epidemiology of the case and whether the patient had contact with poultry.

This newest case follows yesterday's report out of Shanghai where a 86-year-old man was confirmed positive for the virus.

The Zhejiang woman becomes the 146th case of human avian influenza A(H7N9) on mainland China and the 150th confirmed case overall.

According to the CHP, the breakdown of cases in China is as follows:

Zhejiang (52 cases), Shanghai (34 cases), Jiangsu (28 cases), Guangdong (six cases), Jiangxi (six cases), Fujian (five cases), Anhui (four cases), Henan (four cases), Beijing (two cases), Hunan (two cases), Shandong (two cases) and Hebei (one case).

In addition, to the 146 cases from mainland China, both Hong Kong and Taiwan have reported two "imported" cases each.

Avian influenza is caused by those influenza viruses that mainly affect birds and poultry, such as chickens or ducks. Since the virus does not commonly infect humans, there is little or no immune protection against it in the human population.

Clinical presentation of avian influenza in humans includes eye infection (conjunctivitis), flu-like symptoms (e.g. fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches) or severe respiratory illness (e.g. chest infection). The more virulent forms [e.g. infection by avian influenza A (H5N1 or H7N9) viruses] can result in respiratory failure, multi-organ failure and even death.

People mainly become infected with avian influenza through close contact with infected birds and poultry (live or dead) or their droppings.

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