For the first time in several months, Chinese health authorities are reporting a human case of avian influenza A(H7N9). This is from Yunnan province.

H7N9 avian influenza Image/Cynthia S. Goldsmith and Thomas Rowe
H7N9 avian influenza
Image/Cynthia S. Goldsmith and Thomas Rowe

The 64-year-old male patient from Kunming, who was known to have contact with dead poultry, had onset on November 21 and was in a serious condition.

“This is the first human case reported in the Mainland since October 2017. As winter approaches, based on the seasonal pattern of avian influenza (H7N9) viruses, their activity in the Mainland is expected to increase,” a spokesman for the Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection (CHP). 

LISTEN: H7N9 avian influenza in China: Should we be worried?

Since 2013, 1,564 human cases have been reported with all but 31 reported in China. 766 cases have been reported just since Oct. 2016.

Most human cases are exposed to avian influenza A(H7N9) virus through contact with infected poultry or contaminated environments, including live poultry markets. Since the virus continues to be detected in animals and environments, and live poultry vending continues, further human cases can be expected.

Related: Avian influenza in humans 2017: Hong Kong officials break it down

Although small clusters of cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus have been reported including those involving patients in the same ward, current epidemiological and virological evidence suggests that this virus has not acquired the ability of sustained transmission among humans.

Travelers to countries with known outbreaks of avian influenza should avoid, if possible, poultry farms, contact with animals in live poultry markets, entering areas where poultry may be slaughtered, or contact with any surfaces that appear to be contaminated with feces from poultry or other animals. Travelers should also wash their hands often with soap and water, and follow good food safety and good food hygiene practices.