The Health and Family Planning Commission of Sichuan Province reported two additional human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Guang’an.

The two patients had live poultry exposure before onset.

Image/Hong Kong CHP screen shot
Image/Hong Kong CHP screen shot

This brings the total human cases reported in Sichuan Province to eight since human infections were first reported on 2013.

According to the Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection (CHP), as of Feb. 20, there has been 1227 total human cases since 2013, primarily in China.

Avian influenza is caused by those influenza viruses that mainly affect birds and poultry, such as chickens or ducks. Clinical presentation of avian influenza in humans includes eye infection (conjunctivitis), flu-like symptoms (e.g. fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches) or severe respiratory illness (e.g. chest infection). The incubation period ranges from 7 to 10 days. The more virulent forms can result in respiratory failure, multi-organ failure and even death.

People mainly become infected with avian influenza through close contact with infected birds and poultry (live or dead) or their droppings. Human-to-human transmission is inefficient. People in close contact with poultry are more susceptible to contracting avian flu. The elderly, children and people with chronic illness have a higher risk of developing complications such as bronchitis and chest infection.