What a thing to come out on April Foods day! The official Chinese news agency Xinhua has reported that two people in China have died and another remains critical after falling ill with a strain of bird flu not detected before in humans. Both of those who died, men aged 27 and 87, lived in Shanghai, while a 35-year-old woman in Chuzhou city in nearby Anhui province is in the hospital, the Chinese National Health and Family Planning Commission reported Sunday.
The victims all had initial symptoms of fever and coughing that then developed into severe pneumonia and difficulty in breathing. A team of experts assigned by the health commission established that the three cases were human infections of H7N9 avian influenza, which has not been found in humans previously.
Investigators haven’t yet figured out how the three people contracted the virus, according to the commission. It ruled out the theory that they had infected one another. None of the 88 people who had close contact with the victims have shown symptoms of the flu, the commission said, suggesting the virus isn’t highly contagious among humans. The 87-year-old man fell ill on February 19 and died on March 4; the 27-year-old man became unwell on February 27 and died on March 10; and the female victim got sick on March 9.