Bird Flu Strain Spreads as Taiwan Reports First Infection

Photo: Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images.

Taiwan Finds First Bird Flu Infection Outside China in Traveler

Taiwan confirmed an H7N9 bird flu infection in a traveler returning to the island from China, the first incidence of the killer virus spreading outside the mainland.

A 53-year-old Taiwanese man tested positive for the latest strain of avian flu after a business trip to the eastern city of Suzhou and returning to Taiwan via Shanghai, Minister of Health Chiu Wen-ta said at a briefing today. The patient, who is in critical condition in an isolation room, didn’t come into contact with birds and poultry, Chiu said.

The first discovery of the virus outside China, 10 years after an outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, may lead to increased scrutiny on travelers into and out of the country. Taiwan’s largest trade partner is battling to control its spread, which so far has killed 22, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from reports released by the national and local governments, and the World Health Organization.

“With any new influenza virus that emerges, the concern is that it could genetically mutate to become easily transmissible between human beings,” Raina MacIntyre, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of New South Wales, said in an interview before the announcement of Taiwan’s confirmed case. “With all past pandemics and even with SARS, they were spread around the world by travel.”


Bloomberg has the full article

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