H7N9 patient ‘serious, but stable’

LABS ON STANDBY::The CDC said six laboratories in Taiwan have been recruited by the agency this week to examine specimens of suspected H7N9 avian flu cases

Staff writer, with CNA

Fri, Apr 26, 2013 - Page 3

A patient with H7N9 avian influenza was in “serious, but stable” condition following treatment, a senior Department of Health official said yesterday.

The patient, a 53-year-old Taiwanese businessman working in China who returned from Shanghai on April 9, was confirmed a day earlier to have been infected with the H7N9 avian flu virus.

“The man remains in serious, but stable condition and is still receiving treatment in a negative pressure quarantine ward at a northern Taiwan medical center,” Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) said.

Initial tests showed that three hospital personnel who had developed respiratory symptoms after coming into contact with the patient were not infected with the virus, Chou said.

The patient, who is the first confirmed case imported from China, often travels to Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, one of the affected areas.

The man, who is a hepatitis B carrier and suffers from hypertension, visited Suzhou from March 28 to April 9, Chou said.

“He did not come into contact with poultry during his stay in Suzhou, but fell ill on April 12 with symptoms of fever, sweating and fatigue,” Chou said, adding that the man initially did not show respiratory symptoms, such as coughing and a runny nose.

The man went to see a doctor on April 16 and began taking Tamiflu the same day. However, his condition worsened in the subsequent three days.

“He was transferred to the northern Taiwan medical center on April 20 [last Saturday] and has since been receiving treatment, including intubation,” Chou said.

An investigation showed that 139 people had come into contact with the man in Taiwan, the Central Epidemic Command Center said.

Three of them had close contact, 26 had contact more than seven days ago (putting them past the infectious period) and 110 are hospital personnel, the center said.

CDC Director-General Chang Feng-yee (張峰義) said six laboratories in Taiwan have been recruited by the agency this week to examine specimens of suspected H7N9 avian flu cases.

The remarks were made in response to a suggestion by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chao Tien-lin (趙天麟), who said the CDC should let the 30 contracted laboratories in hospitals around the country process the samples, as it did during the SARS outbreak in 2003.

Chang said the nation has nine contracted laboratories, six of which have started sharing the workload of the CDC’s own laboratory.

The CDC uses a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing tool to detect the virus, which takes up to 10 hours. Moreover, as a precautionary measure, an additional 10 hours are required for gene sequence detection, Chang said.