Health authorities continue to monitor cases of avian flu H7N9 in China

Since the new avian flu strain H7N9 was first identified in humans in March 2013, scientists have been monitoring the spread of this virus in China due to concerns about the possibility of a mutation that would make it easily transmitted from person to person and generate a new world-wide epidemic.

So far, there have only been 619 human cases of this infection reported by the Mainland health authorities in many provinces including Guangdong, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Fujian, Shanghai, Hunan, Anhui, Xinjiang, Jiangxi, Shandong, Beijing, Henan, Guangxi, Jilin, Guizhou and Hebei. Infected travellers were identified in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia and Canada after visiting China, but there was no spread.

Since transmission of the virus from poultry to humans most likely occurs in China’s fresh poultry markets, travellers should avoid visiting these markets, even thought the risk of exposure and infection is low.