New H7N9 outbreak in China sparks travel advisory from Taiwan

 By Chris Scott on 8/13/2013

The first human case of H7N9 avian flu in Guangdong Province in southern China has prompted the Taiwanese government to issue a travel advisory for visitors entering or returning from China.

Chinese health authorities have confirmed a case of H7N9 infection in a 51-year-old female worker at a poultry slaughterhouse who has been hospitalized in serious condition. It’s the first confirmed human case of H7N9 infection since early July and indicates that the virus – which has infected 134 people and caused 44 deaths since March – is still in the environment and remains a threat to humans.

Human to human

Separately, one Chinese patient infected with influenza A H7N9 most likely became ill following direct contact with an infected family member, according to recent study findings published in the British Medical Journal.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of probable transmissibility of this novel virus from person to person with detailed epidemiological, clinical, and virological data,” researchers in China wrote

The vast majority of the 133 confirmed cases reported so far seem to be epidemiologically unconnected, with many patients reporting a recent history of exposure to live poultry, which are suspected to be a main reservoir for the virus.

Taiwan alert

The latest alert calls for travelers to take preventative measures, especially if they are visiting areas in China that carry a high risk of avian flu transmission.

People who are entering Taiwan from China, have a fever and have been in contact with live poultry during their visit will be asked to visit designated hospitals upon their return for possible treatment.

Taiwan has reported a single human H7N9 infection since the outbreak began five months ago.