The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has confirmed the nation’s first human fatality from the H7N9 avian influenza virus.
The CDC yesterday said a Taiwanese man who was infected with the virus while he was in China died on Monday after about one month of hospital treatment.
Airport quarantine personnel detected flu symptoms in the 69-year-old man, who worked in China, when he arrived in Taiwan on Jan. 25 after he sought medical attention and was hospitalized. It was confirmed that the man had contracted the virus.
“Although the medical team at the hospital’s intensive care unit and infection specialists tried their best to treat the patient, he unfortunately died of multiple organ failure,” CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) said.
He said the patient was hospitalized for serious pneumonia, but the virus developed resistance to common antiviral drugs during treatment. A novel antiviral agent that was purchased from Japan for treating Ebola was administered to try and save him.
“The man was more than 60 years old and had a history of chronic hypertension. Antiviral drug resistance developed during his treatment, as well as serious pneumonia and increased oxygen demand, which are known risk factors associated with H7N9 avian influenza deaths,” Lo said. “We express deep regret over his death.”
Since 2013, five human H7N9 avian influenza virus infections have been reported in Taiwan, all contracted in China, among them an 86-year-old Chinese visitor who died of the disease in January 2014, the centers said.
A total of 461 human H7N9 avian influenza virus infections have been confirmed in China since October last year, including 128 in Jiangsu Province, 79 in Zhejiang Province, 52 in Guangdong Province and 50 in Anhui Province, Lo said.
The CDC urged people who are in or planning to visit China to avoid contact with birds, maintain proper hygiene, avoid eating raw poultry or eggs and wear a mask. People should report to an airport quarantine station if flu-like symptoms occur after returning to Taiwan.