News / Asia

China Investigating New Deadly Bird Flu Strain

FILE - A farmer walks past baskets of newly hatched ducklings in a hatch room at a poultry egg trading market in Wuzhen town, Tongxiang, Zhejiang province.
FILE - A farmer walks past baskets of newly hatched ducklings in a hatch room at a poultry egg trading market in Wuzhen town, Tongxiang, Zhejiang province.
Shannon Van Sant
This week China reported the death of a woman it said was the first human to become infected with a new strain of bird flu. While researchers work to learn more about the H10N8 strain of the virus that she acquired, the World Health Organization said the quick notice about the case indicates China has made improvements in tracking deadly outbreaks.
 
Shortly after visiting a poultry market in Jiangxi Province, a 73-year-old woman died from a new strain of bird flu called H10N8.  She passed away on December 6, just six days after she contracted the disease.
 
Dr. Bernhard Schwartlander, the WHO representative in China, says the quick diagnosis of the bird flu that killed her reflects the increased strength of the country’s surveillance systems.
 
“The fact that Chinese authorities detected this case in a 73-year-old woman that had other medical conditions actually shows that the active surveillance system, the active alert system, is actually working quite well,” explained Schwartlander.

Earlier this year, some 100 people were infected with the H7N9 strain of avian flu and China responded with increased testing and reporting of similar outbreaks.
 
The H10N8 virus had previously been detected in Guangdong Province and lived in poultry for many years.  The WHO’s Schwartlander said the first fatality from the virus is a worrisome development.  “This the first case that we detected the virus in a human being,” he said.
 
In 2002 and 2003, China came under international criticism for its slow public acknowledgement of the deadly epidemic called SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, that eventually killed more than 700 people. As health authorities tracked the outbreak, officials discouraged the domestic media from reporting on the incident and held back information from WHO researchers.
 
China’s health systems have improved since, but some experts say the country’s surveillance of laboratory-confirmed infections remains underdeveloped.
 
The elderly woman who died this week frequently visited live poultry markets and was admitted to the hospital on November 30.  She suffered from high blood pressure and heart disease, which likely lowered her immunity.
 
Authorities have not provided information on whether she was quarantined but say no one who was close to her has become sick. Dr. Schwartlander said authorities need to keep a close watch to see whether the disease spreads.

“Of course we are always concerned when we see that the virus has actually jumped from one species to another. And you have to be very careful watching this because every time this happens it has, of course in theory, the potential for a wider spread,” he said.
 
Chinese authorities are also closely watching for outbreaks of the H5N1 virus, which has killed 384 people since 2003.  Scientists fear the virus could mutate and spread rapidly from person to person.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid