No poultry contact in some Chinese bird flu cases : WHO

GENEVA/BEIJING Wed Apr 17, 2013 1:31pm EDT

1 of 4. An employee works at a poultry farm on the outskirts of Shanghai April 16, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Aly Song

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GENEVA/BEIJING (Reuters) - The World Health Organization said on Wednesday that a number of people who have tested positive for a new strain of bird flu in China appear to have had no contact with poultry, adding to the mystery about a virus that has killed 17 people to date.

Chinese authorities have slaughtered thousands of birds and closed some live poultry markets to try to slow the rate of human infection, but many questions remain unsolved, including whether the H7N9 strain is being transmitted between people.

WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl confirmed that "there are people who have no history of contact with poultry", after a top Chinese scientist was quoted as saying this applied to about 40 percent of those infected.

"This is one of the puzzles still (to) be solved and therefore argues for a wide investigation net," Hartl said in emailed comments.

Hartl an international team of experts going to China soon would include in their investigation the possibility that the virus can be spread between people, although there was "no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission".

"It might be because of dust at the wet markets, it could be another animal source beside poultry, it could also be human-to-human transmission," he said by telephone.

Wendy Barclay, an influenza expert at Imperial College London, said it could be hard to reveal or rule out exposure to poultry - or to wild birds, which could also be a possible source of infection:

"The incubation time might be quite long, so visiting a market even 14 days before might have resulted in infection."

Hartl said two new suspected cases of possible human-to-human transmission were being investigated.

The first is a couple in Shanghai who tested positive, Hartl said, adding that the wife had died and husband was still sick. A seven-year-old girl in Beijing was the first case in the capital at the weekend and the boy next door has also tested positive, but is not showing symptoms, he said.

NUMBERS TO RISE

The WHO had previously reported two suspected family "clusters", but the first turned out to be a false alarm and the second was inconclusive.

China has warned that the number of infections, 82 so far, could rise. Most of the cases and 11 of the deaths have been in the commercial capital Shanghai.

China reported three new outbreaks to the World Animal Health Organization (OIE) this week, bringing the total number of locations to 11, the OIE said.

Poultry markets remain the focus of investigation by China and the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization.

But Zeng Guang, chief scientist in charge of epidemiology at the China Disease Prevention and Control Centre (CDPCC), said about 40 percent of human victims had no clear history of poultry exposure, the Beijing News reported.

The centre declined to comment on state media reports saying only 10 of the 77 cases known by Tuesday had had contact with poultry.

A study published last week showed the H7N9 strain was a so-called "triple reassortant" virus with a mixture of genes from three other flu strains found in birds in Asia. One of those three strains is thought to have come from a brambling, a type of small wild bird.

"We can't rule out that this ... has passed through poultry but then been reintroduced to a wild bird population from which some spread to humans might be occurring," Barclay said.

China's poultry sector has recorded losses of more than $1.6 billion since reports of the strain emerged two weeks ago.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva, Sui-Lee Wee, Michael Martina and Huang Yan in Beijing, Kate Kelland in London and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris; Editing by Jon Hemming)

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Comments (3)
gregbrew56 wrote:
Oh boy. Human to human transmission. This is not good.

Apr 17, 2013 11:28am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Oscar3 wrote:
It’s definitely “limited” human-to-human transmission, which the Chinese officials already knew, but of course they will cover up anything humanly possible. Let’s hope it doesn’t achieve “sustained” h2h soon. The online discussion forum at http://www.avianflutalk.com has a lot of good info about it and you can see what people from all around the world are saying about.

Good job to the Reuters team for staying on top it!

Apr 18, 2013 2:27pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
bettysenior wrote:
In 2007 a certain Ab Osterhaus, a principal adviser to the WHO on virus based pandemics made the announcement on a US pharmaceuticals’ website that he had been the first to determine that the H1N1 virus had mutated to a human-to-human killer (Osterhaus had just become one of their principal advisers. In the Dutch press he was loathed by the animal rights people for experimenting on animals without a government license – he was a law unto himself). His assertions was untrue that he was the first and where Professor Kennedy Shortridge a former member of our Foundation was the person who first identified this. Kennedy was awarded the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Prize, the Prince Mahidol Award, for his work and where with Margaret Chan (now D-G of the WHO) stopped the killer pandemic
going any further than Hong Kong in 1997. No drugs were required and the virus was stopped in its tracks at ‘source’. This is important as you will see.

When we contacted the US pharmaceutical company concerned we challenged them and where after contacting
Osterhaus they would get back to us. To this day they never have done.

A few months later a certain Declan Butler of Nature magazine and an old time friend of Osterhaus contacted our Foundation
to undertake what he described as a very interesting story on the Foundation. At that time we thought that Nature were a magazine of impeccable integrity and decided that we would work with Butler.

At the same time an international conference had been arranged in Thailand in January 2008 concerning the threat of Avian flu and different perspectives of how to stop it happening. Professor Shortridge was a keynote speaker and
where he was to deliver the ‘first’ global presentation of his ‘source’ strategy not based upon the use of drugs. Visit the WIF’s website to download Professor Shortridge’s source strategy that worked to stop the avian killer flu pandemic happening in 2007 in Hong Kong or click on http://avian-influenza.cirad.fr/content/download/1931/11789/file/Kennedy-F-Shortridge.pdf

The article by Nature magazine was published on the very same day as Prof. Shortridge’s keynote speech but where the article ridiculed the Foundation and was not we were led to believe that the article would be about. Butler had in fact gone behind our backs and misquoted people from the Foundation and where most have apologised for what Butler printed.

The reason for this was clear, Osterhaus and the big Pharma did not want this alternative source strategy to see the light of day as there were not the billions upon billions in drug sales. Indeed they did stop this strategy with the article as the Foundation could not get any financial support to move the
Shortridge strategy further. Nature had done their dirty work for Osterhaus and big Pharma.

I would make you aware that the same scientists in the Netherlands (including Osterhaus) that are now creating the avian flu killer virus in the laboratories. Working from the large Pharma for their future profits again.

But we have analysed the potential killer virus against the history of the 2009 Swine Flu and where a drugs cure for a future avian human-to-human killer virus will simply come too late as the time horizons based upon the Spanish flu also,
are too short.

1918 SPANISH FLU PANDEMIC
The 1918 pandemic did its worst after the first human death between week 16 and week 26 after the second wave and where the virus had mutated into the deadly
human-to-human mass killer. Up to 100 million perished out of a world population of around 1.5 billion (less than 25% of the population now). Therefore in a mere 6 months from initial human death, most had died an absolutely horrible suffocating death.

2009 SWINE FLU PANDEMIC
Time Horizons for the 2009 Swine Flu Pandemic against the 1918 Spanish flu

Detection
Time Scale – 0 months

Swine Flu first detected – Influenza A, Novel H1N1 “swine flu” was first detected in Mexico City and was made public March 18, 2009. Therefore the first causality was probably at the beginning of March 2009 taking into account the incubation period.

First Death in USA
Time Scale + 2-months later at the end of April 2009

1st Vaccine Approved
Time Scale + 6 months 2 weeks

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the new swine flu vaccine for use in the United States on September 15, 2009.

Mass Vaccine 1st ready for use in USA
Time Scale + 7 months 1 week

The vaccine was first ready from mass production and used on 5th October 2009 in the USA

Most Vaccinated City in the USA by 22nd March 2010
Time Scale + 1 year 1month 1 week
Massachusetts vaccinated more residents against the swine flu and seasonal flu in the fall and winter than any other state.
Up to the end of Winter (March 2010) – The Massachusetts Department of Public Health says 36 percent of residents were inoculated against the swine flu, also known as H1N1, compared with 21 percent nationally. Seasonal flu vaccinations were administered to 57 percent of the population, compared with 37 percent nationwide.

A mere 36% in one USA city and where nationally only 21% had the vaccine by March 22nd 2010. This was approximately 13 months after the first human death was recorded in Mexico.
Therefore a drug vaccine strategy is totally flawed and where most people would be dead by the time that it was available to the masses and administered.

The world has to come to its senses before it is far too late and adopt Professor Shortridge’s strategy for our own good, as is the only one that has worked and will save the lives of literally 100s of millions.

Dr David Hill
World Innovation Foundation

Apr 19, 2013 4:13pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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