US/World

H7N9 Bird Flu Kills In Shanghai As Health Authorities Declare Emergency Over

Chicken Breeder, H7N9
A chicken breeder covers his face. Officials in Shanghai say one person died from H7N9 recently, as the heightened emergency state in the city is ending. Reuters

Local public health authorities announced that one person in Shanghai died from the H7N9 avian influenza virus on Friday evening, bringing the death toll in the major city to 14.

The Shanghai Municipal Health and Family Planning Commission reported that an 83-year-old woman died in a local hospital approximately one month after her infection.

Currently there are 33 confirmed cases of H7N9 in Shanghai: 15 have recovered, 14 have died, and four are being treated in the hospital.

An additional 458 people who had close contact with the infected were kept under medical observation, but have since been released due to the absence of abnormal symptoms.

The death announcement came as the city declared that its emergency response program for epidemic diseases is ending, since there have been no new human infections reported in Shanghai for the past 20 days -- equivalent to three incubation periods for the disease.

Declared on April 2, the emergency response program required heightened monitoring of suspicious cases and daily reporting from hospitals on patients with severe pneumonia of unknown cause.

Health authorities and hospitals will still continue to monitor and prevent the spread of H7N9.

Live poultry sales in the city, which were banned on April 6, will remain suspended. The city plans to ask the public through a poll on whether to reopen the markets.

The majority of bird flu cases have been reported outside of Shanghai. Only one case, in Taiwan, has been reported outside of China.

The World Health Organization stated that there is no evidence that the disease can spread easily from person to person. However, a limited amount of person-to-person transmission is likely. Epidemiologists say 40 percent of the infections were in people who had no contact with poultry.

Since the first cases of H7N9 were reported in early March, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have studied the virus and prepared for the possibility of infection in the U.S.

More information about H7N9 can be found at the CDC's website.

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