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Hong Kong reports its first case of H7N9 bird flu

The case is the first reported outside mainland China and could signal the spread of the virus, though the WHO maintains that H7N9 has shown no evidence of human-to-human transmission.

By Ananth Baliga
Hong Kong reports its first case of H7N9 bird flu
Public health notices are posted throughout the city Beijing as the new H7N9 strain of bird flu has infected 139 humans so far, including 45 deaths. The report of an infection in Hong Kong could mean that the virus is spreading. (File/UPI/Stephen Shaver) | License Photo

Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Hong Kong has reported its first case of the new H7N9 strain of the bird flu virus, in a worker from Indonesia.

The worker, 36, recently traveled to Shenzen, China, and was in close contact with poultry. The patient had a history of buying chickens, slaughtering and eating them.

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This is the first time a case has been reported outside mainland China. Of the more than 100 cases reported so far, all have been restricted to the mainland, and the Hong Kong case is a signal the virus may be spreading.

Dr. Ko Wing-man, Hong Kong's food and health secretary, said that the worker was in critical condition at Queen Mary Hospital. Four people she came in close contact with are also showing flu-like symptoms.

Hong Kong is now on public health alert and banned the import of live chickens from farms on the mainland.

Although the World Health Organization said Nov. 6 that there was "no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission," 139 human cases had been reported by that time, including 45 deaths, leading them to label H7N9 an "unusually dangerous virus."

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[BBC]

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