Health authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guizhou have confirmed a new human case of H7N9 avian influenza, state radio said, bringing the total number of human infections of the highly pathogenic strain to 19 this winter.
The 49-year-old man, who is a chicken trader, was being treated in hospital in Qiannan prefecture. The local authorities were taking precautions to try and prevent the infection from spreading, the report said on Sunday.
A total of 19 people have been infected with bird flu in China so far this winter, all with the H7N9 strain, killing at least three of them.
Regional fears of a major bird flu outbreak have been raised by a record outbreak of avian influenza in poultry in South Korea as well as infections in birds in Japan.
The last major bird flu outbreak on the mainland – from late 2013 to early 2014 – killed 36 people and led to more than US$6 billion in losses for the agricultural sector.
China has culled more than 170,000 birds in four provinces since October and closed some live poultry markets after people and birds were infected by strains of the avian flu. The outbreak among poultry has been the H5N6 type, which easily causes disease.
However, the H7N9 strain, which easily causes the disease in humans and leads to severe respiratory disease, is not dangerous for birds, making it nearly impossible for farmers to detect, experts said.
China’s Ministry of Agriculture said on Friday the recent outbreaks of bird flu have been handled in a “timely and effective” manner without spreading and have not affected chicken products or prices.
A 75-year-old man who tested positive for H7N9 in Hong Kong died last week. In an unconnected case, a 70-year-old man also tested positive for the strain on Friday. He was admitted to hospital and said to be in stable condition.