Man behind second imported case of H7N9 in Taiwan dies

TAIPEI, Taiwan - The person behind the second imported case of H7N9 influenza passed away on Monday night due to bacterial pneumonia and septic shock, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced yesterday.

According to the CECC, the 86-year-old H7N9 influenza patient from Changzhou, Jiangsu, mainland China became the first imported case to have passed away in Taiwan.

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chou Chih-hau said that after nearly a month of quarantine for medical treatment, there was no H7N9 influenza virus found in the patient's body.

"However, the patient was old and he eventually passed away due to bacterial pneumonia and septic shock," said Chou.

Commander-in-Chief Chang Feng-yee said that the number of H7N9 influenza patients has increased dramatically, and the patients' ages trend toward middle age.

Chang said that it is highly possible that more H7N9 influenza cases will come to Taiwan soon.

"Based on the fact that a 31-year-old doctor in mainland China died from H7N9 influenza recently, it is fair to say that average people do not have immunity against H7N9 influenza," said Chang.

"Therefore, we should not underestimate the damage the virus could cause."

Since March 31, 2013, China has been reporting laboratory-confirmed human cases of avian influenza A (H7N9) virus, the CECC said.

Most cases confirmed during the beginning of the H7N9 outbreak initially experienced symptoms of respiratory infection, such as fever and cough, and later developed more severe symptoms such as severe pneumonia and breathing difficulties.

Recently, more confirmed cases have experienced only mild or no symptoms.

H7N9 Not Easily Transmitted Between Humans

Chang said that the main transmission method for H7N9 influenza is through contact with birds, and only a few cases have been proven to be transmitted between humans. People should still be careful about the potential risk of contraction, Chang added.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said that its risk evaluation regarding H7N9 influenza remains the same and it is not surprised to see a dramatic increase in the number of H7N9 influenza patients in winter.

Gregory Hartl, the spokesman of the WHO, said that those cases reported so far are categorized as accidental incidents of humans infected by animals.

Due to the fact that the threat of H7N9 avian influenza infection has dramatically increased, the CECC once again urges travelers visiting China to practice good personal hygiene, such as washing hands frequently and putting on a mask, and to take preventive measures such as avoiding direct contact with poultry and birds or their droppings, avoiding visiting traditional markets with live poultry and consuming only thoroughly cooked poultry and eggs.