Welcome to the South African Society of Travel Medicine (SASTM) website.

The SASTM’s Mission is to guide the profession in all aspects relating to the practice of travel medicine, liaise with the travel industry, consult with relevant authorities, advise the public and collaborate nationally and internationally on all aspects relating to Travel Medicine. Click here to learn more.

SASTM Newsflash - Avian influenza, Human: China H7N9 update


Group Email


SASTM Newsflash





The World Health Organization [WHO] said on Wednesday [17 Apr 2013] that a number of people who have tested positive for a new strain of bird flu in China have had no history of contact with poultry, adding to the mystery about the virus that has killed 16 people to date. WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl confirmed that "there are people who have no history of contact with poultry," after a top Chinese scientist was quoted as saying that about 40 percent of those with the H7N9 virus had had no contact with fowl. "This is one of the puzzles still (to) be solved and therefore argues for a wide investigation net," Hartl said in emailed comments, though he added he did not know the exact percentage.


China has warned that the number of infections could rise from the current 77. The latest victims are from the commercial capital of Shanghai, where the majority of the cases have been found, the official Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday [16 Apr 2013]. China reported 3 new outbreaks to the World Animal Health Organization (OIE) this week, bringing the total number of places to 11, the OIE said on its website.


The exact source of infection remains unknown, and no human-to-human spread of the virus has been confirmed. Samples have tested positive in some poultry markets that remain the focus of investigation by China and the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization. Zeng Guang, the chief scientist in charge of epidemiology at the China Disease Prevention and Control Centre (CDPCC), said about 40 percent of the victims had no clear history of poultry exposure, the Beijing News reported on Wednesday [17 Apr 2013]. "How did these people get infected? It's a mystery," Zeng was quoted as saying. According to a Reuters analysis of the infections, based on state media reports, only 10 of the 77 cases as of Tuesday [16 Apr 2013] have had contact with poultry.


WHO said no H7N9 vaccine was currently being produced. "Such a decision will depend, for WHO's part, on public health considerations," it said. "We must see how H7N9 develops before any such decision is considered." The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in early April 2013 it had started work on a vaccine just in case it was needed. China's poultry sector has recorded losses of more than 10 billion yuan (USD 1.6 billion) since reports emerged of the new strain 2 weeks ago, an official at the country's National Poultry Industry Association said on Tuesday [16 Apr 2013].


Authorities have slaughtered thousands of birds and closed live poultry markets in Shanghai and Beijing in an attempt to reduce the rate of human infection. An international team of flu experts will go to China this week to help with investigations into the virus, WHO said on Tuesday [16 Apr 2013]. China said on Sunday [14 Apr 2013] the virus had spread outside the Yangtze River delta region in eastern China, with cases reported in the capital Beijing and the central province of Henan.


Communicated by: ProMED-mail




South African Society of Travel Medicine (SASTM)

Phone: +27 (011) 025 3297
Fax: +27 087 9411350 / 1
E-mail: admin@sastm.org.za
Website: www.sastm.org.za
Postal address: SASTM, PO Box 8216, Greenstone, 1616, South Africa
Physical address: SASTM, 27 Linksfield Road Block 2 a Dunvegan Edenvale
Registered as a Nonprofit Organisation 063-296-NPO


The content and opinions are neither pre-screened nor endorsed by the SASTM. The content should neither be interpreted nor quoted as inherently accurate or authoritative.

The information provided in SASTM Newsflashes is collected from various news sources, health agencies and government agencies. Although the information is believed to be accurate, any express or implied warranty as to its suitability for any purpose is categorically disclaimed. In particular, this information should not be construed to serve as medical advice for any individual. The health information provided is general in nature, and may not be appropriate for all persons. Medical advice may vary because of individual differences in such factors as health risks, current medical conditions and treatment, allergies, pregnancy and breast feeding, etc. In addition, global health risks are constantly evolving and changing. International travelers should consult a qualified physician for medical advice prior to departure.

Scroll to Top