ASTRAKHAN, April 14 (RIA Novosti) – Russia is preparing to enhance sanitary control measures in case the situation over the bird flu in China deteriorates, Russia’s chief sanitary doctor Gennady Onishchenko said on Sunday.
“The World Health Organization (WHO) has not yet given recommendations for quarantine, and now we are not introducing prohibitive measures but we are just paying increased attention [to the issue]. But if the process spreads, we will enhance appropriate measures in this situation,” Onishchenko said.
China reported 11 fresh cases of infections of H7N9 avian flu on Sunday, which bring the total number of the reported cases to 60. Two more people have died in China from a new strain of bird flu, raising the death toll to 13. The official Xinhua news agency said the two deaths were reported in Shanghai.
“We still cannot understand the mechanism of the disease as there is practically no contact with poultry in big cities. As H7N9 has been always transmitted to humans through birds, and we need to study the [problem] seriously,” he said.
Chinese health authorities have so far treated the infections as isolated cases and ruled out human-to-human transmission.
However, a fresh report by a team of Chinese experts, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, indicates that H7N9 causes unusually severe respiratory infection, sepsis and brain damage, and appears to be resistant to vaccination and treatment.
Experts also believe that the new virus has a high potential to cause a pandemic.
China has already taken various steps to curb the spread of H7N9 infections, including suspension of live poultry trade in affected areas, slaughter and incineration of poultry, and publicity campaigns among the population.