Live chickens held in cages are for sale at a market in Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou Province, China. Human H7N9 infections have been reported in the province, and other parts of the country. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 24 (UPI) -- The World Health Organization's director-general warned of escalating cases of bird flu around the world, as human cases of viral infections continue to climb in rural China.
On Monday, Dr. Margaret Chan said the WHO is on high alert because of the rising number of outbreaks of human cases of the H5N6 and H7N9 in Asia and in China.
"Since 2013, China has reported epidemics of H7N9 infections in humans, now amounting to more than 1,000 cases, of which 38.5 percent were fatal," Chan said in her address to the WHO executive board.
China has reported 16 human infections of the H7N9 avian flu virus, including five deaths, according to state-owned news agency Xinhua.
The latest patient, a woman in her 30s, was diagnosed Monday by the Hunan provincial disease control and prevention center.
Human H7N9 infections have been reported in other Chinese provinces, including Guangdong, Guizhou, Hubei, Henan, Jiangxi and Shandong. Major population centers, including Shanghai, Hong Kong and Macao have also reported human infections of the bird flu virus.
The infections are being reported ahead of the Lunar New Year, when consumption of poultry products rises and large segments of the population travel across the country, according to the University of Minnesota's CIDRAP News.
There may now be more than 100 cases of infections in China.
The Hong Kong's Center for Health Protection, using mainland Chinese sources, stated 111 cases were reported in the first two weeks of January, exceeding the total number of cases reported in December.
On Monday, the CHP said a 75-year-old man with H7N9 died in Hunan Province.
Chan said Monday in the most recent cases, "No sustained transmission has been detected to date."