News / Asia

China: Human Transmission of Bird Flu is Possible

Nurses collect patients' blood samples at a specialized fever clinic inside the Ditan Hospital, where a Chinese girl is being treated for the H7N9 strain of bird flu, in Beijing, April 14, 2013.
Nurses collect patients' blood samples at a specialized fever clinic inside the Ditan Hospital, where a Chinese girl is being treated for the H7N9 strain of bird flu, in Beijing, April 14, 2013.
VOA News
A top health official in China says it is possible that a deadly, new strain of bird flu could spread among humans, but cautioned there is no reason to fear a widespread pandemic.

Feng Zijian, a director at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, says human-to-human transmission of the H7N9 strain of bird flu is possible in theory, though highly sporadic.

China has reported 17 deaths since the virus was reported in humans for the first time last month. In total, 82 people have been infected, most were near Shanghai.

Until now, the virus was believed to have only been transmitted from birds to humans, greatly limiting its ability to spread. But officials say 40 percent of those infected appear to have had no contact with poultry.

The World Health Organization confirmed the finding, but warned there is no evidence of "sustained human-to-human transmission."

John Oxford, a professor of virology at Queen Mary University of London, tells VOA he is not overly concerned the situation will spiral out of control. He says many of those infected may not have realized they came into contact with birds.

"It could be their friend who is working with chickens, whose got his fingers and hands covered in chicken down," he said. "So it's not necessarily a real person to person transmission, you're both getting it from the same source."

Of particular interest is a case involving an 87-year-old Chinese man who suffered China's first human death from H7N9. One of his sons was confirmed to have contracted the virus, and recovered. Another son later died, though the cause of his death is unclear.

Chinese authorities are investigating whether cases like this mean long-term and unprotected exposure to the infected person might result in a person-to-person transmission.

But Oxford says even if this is the case, that does not mean that the virus will easily spread quickly outside the family.

"The family is a very unique structure - people share things, share towels, even toothbrushes, and live very closely together, and the hygiene can be quite low. So you can't base a whole philosophy of what's going to happen [with a virus] based on a family transmission," he said.

China has been working on developing vaccines and other treatment for the virus, as part of a wider plan to combat any potential outbreak. It has also slaughtered thousands of birds and closed many poultry markets in an attempt to slow the spread of the disease.

This is believed to be the first time humans have contracted the H7N9 bird flu virus. It previously existed only in birds. The more common strain of avian flu, H5N1, has killed more than 360 people worldwide in the last decade.

China is considered one of the countries at greater risk for bird flu because it has the world's biggest poultry population and many chickens in rural areas are kept close to humans.

You May Like

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid