Hong Kong’s second case of the deadly H7N9 flu virus was confirmed on Thursday, not long before officials in mainland China reported another new infection in Zhejiang province.
According to reports, this week’s second Hong Kong case of the virus was seen in an 80-year-old man, now living in Shenzhen. He is currently being hospitalized in an isolation unit at Princess Margaret Hospital.
The city’s first case was reported on December 3, with a 36-year-old Indonesian domestic worker being hospitalized after coming into contact with poultry in Shenzhen. This was Hong Kong’s first-ever documented case of the H7N9 flu, and was later described as an isolated incident.
A new case was also announced in Zhejiang province yesterday, affecting a 30-year-old man from Anji county who is being hospitalized in critical condition. This is the sixth mainland case reported since the end of August.
Dr. Leung Ting-hung, the controller of the Center for Health Protection, believes that both cases were imported, despite there having been no confirmed cases yet in Shenzhen.
“We don’t know whether he came into contact with live poultry in Shenzhen, but in Hong Kong, certainly not,” he said.
Leung added that the spread of the virus was probably caused by human-to-human contact, and that sporadic cases are expected to pop up as temperatures drop.
Relatives and close contacts of both of the men are being monitored.
China has so far reported 145 cases of H7N9, with 45 of them being fatal. Researchers are still mildly confident, however, that the virus shows no signs of making an aggressive comeback, according to a CIDRAP report following the virus.
n H7N9 research developments, teams from two Scripps Research Institute labs today reported that an analysis of the H7N9’s hemagglutinin protein shows that it binds only weakly to human-type receptors, which could signal that it still hasn’t adapted to become a pandemic threat. The group published its findings in Science.
“These [lab test] results suggest that we should continue to observe H7N9 and see if it undergoes any changes that make it more likely to spread in the human population,” Ian Wilson, PhD, said in a statement.