The pathogen is currently known to be passed from birds to humans, but the animals show no symptoms, WHO representative michael O’leary said in beijing on monday. "This makes massive testing of the animal population necessary. We can only see if they are sick in the laboratory." At least 24 people have already been infected.
The new virus is fundamentally different in its effect on animals from the H5N1 bird flu of a few years ago. "With H5N1, chickens in particular died in gross numbers. We were therefore able to track the pathogen much more easily in the population of animals," said O’leary. According to the WHO, more than 600 people worldwide have been infected with the H5N1 virus since 2003 and more than 300 have died.
On monday, the health department in shanghai announced another death from the virus, chinese media reported. In addition, the eastern chinese province of jiangsu reported two more infected people. Bringing the total number of infected to 24 – all in the east of the country. Most of the patients suffered severe pneumonia. A total of seven. "The disease is very serious," said o’leary. Four-year-old boy recovers from infection, xinhua news agency reports.
For O’leary, however, there is no need for controls at chinese airports or borders. Travel or trade also did not have to be restricted, according to current knowledge. The chinese authorities had taken far-reaching measures and informed the WHO daily about the latest findings.
In shanghai and the cities of nanjing and hangzhou, all poultry markets were closed after the pathogen was diagnosed in birds. Authorities in shanghai had ordered the culling of about 98,000 birds, xinhua news agency reported.
Chinese scientists are also working on a vaccine against the virus. "We are not afraid of an outbreak of the disease," said the department head in charge at the ministry of health in peking on monday. So far, there is no evidence of human-to-human infection.
The virologist alexander kekule of the martin luther university of halle-wittenberg had said on the weekend that it was only a matter of time before h7n9 also reached germany. Since the experience with bird flu a few years ago, however, the museum is better prepared. O’leary said on monday that the spread of the virus to other countries is unlikely, but not impossible.
The group of H7 viruses usually infects birds. H and N are the abbreviations for the proteins of the viral coils hamagglutinin and neuraminidase, each of which has different structures.