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China Reports 2 More Cases Of H7N9; Researchers Continue To Investigate Transmission Routes

“China has found two more cases of a new strain of bird flu and one of the victims has died, state media said on Wednesday, bringing to nine the number of confirmed human infections from the previously unknown flu type,” Reuters reports (Blanchard/Kelland, 4/3). “The disclosure of the third death comes only days after Chinese authorities announced the first three known cases of humans infected with the H7N9 bird flu virus on Sunday,” CNN’s “On China” blog writes (Mullen/Hanna, 4/3). “Hospital sources in east China’s Jiangsu province said Wednesday that the five patients who have been diagnosed with the lesser-known H7N9 bird flu remain in critical condition,” Xinhua notes (4/3). “The emergence in China of the H7N9 strain of avian flu … [is] troubling because the strain has not previously been found in humans,” the Washington Post adds (Wan, 4/3). “Reports of the new flu strain sparked a stampede to buy shares in Chinese drug makers amid speculation it could create a spike in demand for related medicines, the [People's Daily online] wrote,” according to the New York Times’ “View From Asia” blog (Tatlow, 4/3).

But the WHO, “which is monitoring the cases in cooperation with Chinese authorities, said the strain was not transmittable from human to human,” The Guardian writes, adding, “China’s state newswire Xinhua reported that almost 200 people who came into contact with infected patients had tested negative for the virus” (Kaiman/Davison, 4/3). However, “[i]n the wake of the illnesses, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention shared the genetic sequence of the H7N9 virus with other scientists to help study how the virus might behave in different animals and situations,” according to the Associated Press (Wong/Ritter, 4/3). “[F]lu experts in laboratories across the world are picking through the DNA sequence data of samples isolated from the patients to assess its pandemic potential,” Reuters writes in a separate article, adding, “[T]here is no evidence so far that the H7N9 flu … is spreading from person to person, and there is still a chance it might peter out and never fully mutate into a human form of flu” (Kelland, 4/3).