By Jiawei Liu
Image via Wikipedia.
A joint study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Chinese government has shown that poultry farms are likely the source of the H7N9 virus that has so far killed 36 people.
Last month the WHO sent a joint mission of experts to China to conduct surveys in Beijing and Shanghai. The latest study has been assessed by a panel of experts commissioned by the WHO and was published by the National Health and Family Commission on Saturday.
According to the South China Morning Post:
The report said H7N9 had a higher potential for human-to-human transmission than any other known bird-flu virus, but added that there was no evidence supporting that such transmission had already taken place.
Apart from the three family clusters reported by the commission earlier, all the remaining cases were sporadic.
It said H7N9 had infected more patients in a shorter time than other bird-flu viruses, and some samples had shown genetic alterations, which meant the organism had adapted to be more contagious than other avian-influenza viruses.
Among the 104 confirmed cases, 72 per cent have had exposures to poultry and poultry markets. It said poultry farms were likely the source of infections.
“Although the virus was not found in poultry farms yet, they are likely the source of the virus, which spread further in the live-poultry markets and eventually infected humans.”
The report said it was uncertain why there were more elderly male patients than others, and the researchers were not sure if this was related to the behavioural patterns of older men.
Since the bird flu outbreak started, 130 H7N9 infections have been reported and 36 people have died.