A FLOWER farm owner in Shenzhen’s Guangming New Area has died after he contracted the H7N9 strain of bird flu while dealing with sick chickens he was raising on the farm, marking the city’s first human casualty of the disease this year, the city’s center for disease control and prevention (CDC) said yesterday.
The 55-year-old man, who was not identified, passed away March 13 at a local hospital. An owner of a flower farm in Yutang Subdistrict of Guangming, he was illegally raising 60 chickens and three ducks on the farm, Kong Dongfeng, a deputy director of the CDC’s infectious disease department, told reporters yesterday.
Between Feb. 24 and March 1, 54 chickens died and the man, along with one of his employees, buried the dead chickens on the farm. He then developed fever symptoms and a cough March 4 and sought medical treatment at a private clinic.
Feeling no better, he drove to a city-level hospital, which was not identified, for treatment March 8. “His health deteriorated rapidly and he died March 13 at the hospital,” said Kong.
Kong added that all of the 36 people who had close contact with the patient, including the employee, have shown no symptoms as of yesterday when their quarantine ended. The ducks were alive and healthy.
Although spring is still a season when the transmission of the H7N9 strain of bird flu is highly active, there were few H7N9 cases in March in previous years, Kong said. He warned the public to be vigilant against bird flu and urged the public to see doctors at proper hospitals as soon as possible if they develop symptoms of fever, cough and sore throat.
“Those who have had close contact with live poultry should voluntarily inform their doctors to help them make a judgment,” said Kong.
This is the fourth human H7N9 bird flu case in Shenzhen this year. The three previous patients all recovered. A resident of Qingyuan City in Guangdong also died of the H7N9 bird flu in March.
Guangdong has reported 42 H7N9 bird flu cases this year, seven of which were fatal. The provincial health commission warned that the death rate of the H7N9 bird flu can be as high as 30 to 40 percent.