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Beijing Reports First Known Case of Avian Flu Virus H7N9

Apr 13, 2013 12:56 PM EDT
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China's state-run news agency Xinhua confirmed Saturday that a 7-year-old girl admitted into a hospital in Beijing tested positive for the avian flu virus H7N9.

The diagnosis marks the first known case in the nation's capital as previous reported cases have taken place in or around the city of Shanghai.

According to The New York Times, the girl's parents are involved in the poultry industry and that while she did not initially respond to the drug Tamiflu, her condition improved after undergoing oxygen therapy. The Beijing Health Bureau reports that her condition remains stable.

The girl is one of 44 people known to have contracted the latest strain of avian flu, 11 of which have died as a result of the disease.

However, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) as well as the World Health Organization (WHO) report that, thus far, the virus has not yet shown the ability to move between humans. Should any further mutations enable it to do so, the CDC warns it would have "the potential to cause a pandemic."

For this reason, the U.S. agency reports that it is "following this situation closely and coordinating with domestic and international partners."

Meanwhile, WHO maintains that it is working with its Collaborating Centers for Reference and Research as well as other entities to ensure the availability of information as well as diagnosis, treatment and vaccine development.

Preliminary test results, it states, have shown that the virus is susceptible to neuraminidase inhibitors oseltamivir and zanamivir.

The UN organization does not currently suggest special screening points of entry nor the application of any trade or travel restrictions.

In all, more than 1,000 close contacts of the confirmed cases are being closely monitored by WHO.

The CDC estimates that there were between 43 million and 89 million cases of the H1N1 virus between 2009 and 2010, with deaths anywhere in the range of 8,870 and 18,300.

A screen shows a girl who hospital officials say is infected with the new H7N9 bird flu strain and is undergoing treatment, during a news conference at Ditan Hospital in Beijing April 13, 2013. Chinese capital Beijing reported on Saturday its first suspected case of the new strain of bird flu, state news agency Xinhua said, which would be the first time it has been found in a human outside of eastern China. The seven-year-old child is in a stable condition in the Beijing hospital and samples have been sent to the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention for further tests, the report said.

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