There has been a sharp rise in the number of human infections with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus in China. In the past four days, 23 new cases were reported. The recent upsurge is thought to be in connection with the approach of the Lunar New Year which begins on 31 January 2014.
In preparation for the holiday, the demand for poultry increases and poultry is more likely to be slaughtered and prepared in the home. The movement of the population and of poultry to other parts of the country is also more common during the celebrations.
The new cases are from provinces in eastern and southern China previoulsy reporting cases of H7N9 infection: Zhejiang (12), Guangdong (6), Fujian (3) and Shanghai (2). Of the new cases,15 are receiving treatment in hospital.
As of 23 Jan 2014, a total of 217 human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) including 57 fatalities (unofficial figures) have been confirmed in China.
(Via CIDRAP - accessed 23/01/14)
Advice for Travellers
Avian influenza virus (H7N9) infection is unusual in humans but appears to cause severe illness in those infected. Preventive measures are the same as those for highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (H5N1).