First H7N9 Bird Flu Death Reported From Hong Kong
December 27, 2013

First H7N9 Bird Flu Death Reported From Hong Kong

Lawrence LeBlond for - Your Universe Online

Health officials from Hong Kong have reported that an 80-year-old man is the first person to die from H7N9 bird flu in the island region. The news comes less than a month after the first case of the bird flu was detected there in a 36-year-old domestic helper who had traveled to Shenzhen for live poultry.

The 80-year-old man, who lived in Shenzhen, traveled to Tuen Mun Hospital on Dec. 3 in search of diabetes and heart treatment. However, three days later he developed flu symptoms and was transported to Princess Margaret Hospital in Kwai Chung, Hong Kong, according to UPI, gathering the news from a South China Morning report.

The 36-year-old domestic helper is reportedly in stable condition at Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam, Hong Kong.

In addition to the domestic helper, the 80-year-old man was believed to have caught the flu in Shenzhen from a live poultry market. The 36-year-old may have handled live poultry at one market where bird flu had been previously discovered; the 80-year-old may have caught the flu after visiting another market associated with the avian flu.

Across China, a total of 140 people have been sickened by H7N9 bird flu and the latest death brings the total number of lethal cases to 46.

The World Health Organization maintains, based on laboratory analysis, that H7N9 shows no signs of transmitting easily among people, which should keep a pandemic risk at a minimum.

However, some experts have warned that as H7N9 mutations arise, they may add the ability to become more sustainable as a human-to-human transmitter. Furthermore, one study has shown that H7N9 has the ability to continue to be aggressive despite developing resistance to antiviral drugs. In most cases, avian flu strains lose the ability to stay aggressive when they develop resistance to antiviral drugs.

Also, just last week, the first case of H10N8 bird flu was detected in humans in Nanchang, Jiangxi. It was the first time the flu strain has shown capability to transmit to humans, leaving many experts worried that another flu epidemic may be arising in China.

Besides the new H10N8 and H7N9, which has been infecting people since March, the country has been battling the H5N1 epidemic, which has killed 384 people since it was first detected in humans in 2003.