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  • Study finds new bird flu virus jumped directly from chickens to humans

    Posted on April 26th, 2013 admin No comments

    Chinese scientists have for the first time found strong evidence of how humans became infected with a new strain of bird flu: from chickens at a live market.

    Chinese scientists compared swabs from birds at markets in eastern China to virus samples from four patients who caught the new H7N9 virus. The scientists found the virus from one patient was nearly identical to one found in a chicken. The research was published online Thursday in the journal Lancet.

    Finding definitive proof of how patients were infected is very difficult and experts have so far struggled to find examples of the virus in birds. Despite taking nearly 48,000 samples from birds in live markets, Chinese officials found only 39 tested positive for H7N9. Experts had suspected birds in live markets to be the source of infection but were not sure if other animals or wild birds might also be responsible.

    Health officials have so far refrained from recommending any wide-scale slaughter of poultry to contain the disease, one of the main tools used previously to combat another bird flu strain, H5N1. Unlike that strain, H7N9 does not appear to sicken chickens, giving experts fewer signs as to where it might be spreading.

    Chinese authorities have shut down live poultry markets in many affected regions, which seems to have slowed down the spread of the virus. However, Taiwan reported its first case earlier this week.

    So far, H7N9 has infected more than 100 people in China and killed more than 20.