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un agReports Of H7N9 Cases, Deaths Continue From Across China

“Two more people have died in China from a new strain of bird flu, raising the death toll from the virus to 13, state media reported Sunday,” the Associated Press reports. “A total of 11 new cases were reported Sunday — including two in a central province that previously had been unaffected,” the news service notes (4/14). “On Saturday, Xinhua reported that a seven-year-old girl in the capital city of Beijing was the first person to contract bird flu outside of the eastern region,” Al Jazeera writes (4/14). “The girl is in stable condition at a local hospital, [Beijing's health bureau] said,” the Wall Street Journal notes (Tejada, 4/12). “Up until Saturday, when Beijing officials reported the capital’s first case of H7N9, all cases had been in Shanghai and other areas of eastern China,” the AP writes in a separate article, adding, “On Sunday, officials announced the first two cases in central Henan province, which is next to Beijing” (4/14). “By Sunday night, there had been 60 confirmed human infections with the H7N9 avian influenza virus, two weeks after it was publicly identified by Chinese health authorities,” according to the Financial Times (Rabinovitch, 4/14). “Experts fear the prospect of such viruses mutating into a form easily transmissible between humans, which would have the potential to trigger a pandemic,” Agence France-Presse notes (4/14). “There are no reported cases outside the country, according to the World Health Organization (WHO),” BBC News writes (4/13).

“Chinese authorities moved over the weekend to take new measures to stop the spread of the flu, with Beijing city officials closing live poultry markets and ordering medical agencies to stock up on medication such as Tamiflu,” the Wall Street Journal notes in a separate article, adding, “At a briefing on Sunday, Michael O’Leary, the World Health Organization’s representative to China, said further spreading is expected based on what officials know about the disease” (Chin, 4/14). “‘There’s no way to predict how it will spread but it’s not surprising if we have new cases in different places like we do in Beijing,’ he told reporters,” BBC News writes in a separate article (4/14). “While the spread of the virus to an area outside the Shanghai region suggests a wider footprint of the H7N9 virus, health officials have emphasized that there have yet to be any confirmed cases of human-to-human transmission, which would suggest a mutation to a more virulent form of the virus,” according to the New York Times (Mullany, 4/13). “Here in the U.S., the [CDC] has beefed up resources to deal with the outbreak,” NPR’s “Shots” blog writes, noting, “The agency received a vial of H7N9 from China Thursday so it could develop tests and vaccines against the virus” (Doucleff, 4/12). “Flu labs around the world are developing vaccine seed strains to serve as a template for bulk immunization production, should it be required,” Bloomberg News adds (4/15).