"Chinese health authorities have identified a brand-new type of bird flu that killed an elderly woman in November and infected at least one other person in January. That trend prompted the experts to call for stepped-up surveillance to track the new H10N8 influenza virus in poultry markets and in human patients. 'The pandemic potential of this novel virus should not be underestimated,' the medical team wrote in a report published Wednesday by the journal Lancet. Genetic analysis of the H10N8 influenza virus revealed that it has two mutations that make flu viruses more virulent in mammals, [...]
"A strain of bird flu that scientists thought could not infect people has shown up in a Taiwanese woman, a nasty surprise that shows scientists must do more to spot worrisome flu strains before they ignite a global outbreak, doctors say."
"A man in the northeastern Chinese province of Shandong has been infected by a new strain of bird flu, the first case found in the province, state news agency Xinhua said on Monday, bringing the total number of cases in China to 105…. [I]n the two months since it was first detected, the H7N9 flu has already resulted in almost twice as many confirmed infections in China as H5N1 caused there in a decade." Also: "'If the virus does develop the capacity to spread from person to person then it could mean a much greater concern about this virus because it means it could slip across borders undetected.'"
"H7N9 bird flu is considered a low pathogenic strain that cannot easily be contracted by humans," the AP reports from Beijing. Well that would be very comforting for humans (if not for birds), except for the sad fact that the wire story is about the first two humans known to be killed by H7N9. Another infected human is in critical condition.
But it's supposedly a low-level virus and not the SARS kind of crazy—that virus jumped to humans from a weird kind of wildcat cruelly captured and then kept in cages to sell to bad people at markets. SARS eventually killed 775 of the 8,000 infected during that [...]
"Hong Kong has begun a mass cull of around 20,000 chickens after the deadly H7N9 bird flu virus was discovered in a batch of poultry imported from mainland China. Officials wearing masks and protective suits piled dead chickens into black plastic bags at a wholesale market in Hong Kong where the virus was discovered on Monday…. The discovery of the avian influenza virus came just days after Hong Kong introduced widespread testing of imported live poultry following growing public concern over the safety of imports, particularly from the mainland."
"Researchers have reported the first case of human-to-human transmission of the new strain of bird flu that has emerged in China."
"Thousands of ducklings deemed unfit for human consumption following China's latest bird flu outbreak are being sold as live snake food. Poultry farmers have resorted to selling truckloads of the newly-hatched ducklings to snake farms for a few pence each after 14 deaths in China were blamed on the lethal H7N9 virus. One duck farmer said of the creatures' unpleasant fate: 'It's either this or we just gas them all'."
"Hong Kong confirmed its first case of deadly H7N9 bird flu on Monday in a further sign that the virus is continuing to spread beyond mainland China's borders."
"The H7N9 bird flu virus can be transmitted not only through close contact but by airborne exposure, a team at the University of Hong Kong found after extensive laboratory experiments." Anything else? "'We also found that the virus can infect pigs, which was not previously known.'"
"Taiwan confirmed an H7N9 bird flu infection in a Taiwanese traveler from China, demonstrating the risk of the killer virus entering cities outside the mainland."
"The deadly new strain of bird flu has spread further on [China's] mainland, with two people in Henan province confirmed yesterday as infected with H7N9, the first cases in the region. Shanghai reported two new deaths, those of a 67-year-old woman who died on Saturday and a 77-year-old man who died yesterday morning, bringing the national death toll to 13. Three new cases were confirmed in Shanghai yesterday, four in Zhejiang province and two in neighbouring Jiangsu , giving a national total of 60." Meanwhile, closer to home, "Health experts worked hard Sunday to defuse fears of a national epidemic among gay men after a Sacramento native died [...]