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CDC issues travel alert over H10N8 in Jiangxi

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC, 疾病管制署) raised the travel health advisory to “alert” as the first death of H10N8 avian flu infection was confirmed in Jiangxi province's Nanchang City (江西南昌市), mainland China, the CDC announced yesterday.

The CDC will carefully evaluate whether to list H10N8 as a certifiable disease, said the Deputy Director Chou Chih-hao (周志浩) yesterday.

According to the CDC, the case was a 73-year-old woman who died of respiratory failure and shock under the influence of H10N8 on Dec. 6. The woman had a history of being exposed to live-poultry markets. All of the people who had contact with her during that period were under medical surveillance. None of these people have any symptoms so far, the Jiangxi government said.

Chou pointed out that H10N8 is a low-pathogenicity avian flu. However, it has the ability to infect mammals and cause severe symptoms in people. The H10N8 virus is now being monitored by epidemic prevention workers who will keep observing the evolution of this disease, said Chou.

Chou also stated that H10N8 is not a new strain of avian flu. The virus was found before in a live-poultry market around the Guangdong area of mainland China. There were also some virus samples from migrant birds and poultry in Japan, South Korea, the United States, Italy and Sweden. However, the recent case is the only one thus far that has resulted in death, said Chou.

The CDC also said that cases of people infected with avian flu usually can be seen during winter. The CDC reminded local doctors to ask about patients' travel experiences once they confirm cases of avian flu.

Local hospitals and clinics should also inform authorities as soon as they encounter such cases, the CDC said.

H10N8 Kin to H7N9

Huang Li-min (黃立民), a specialist of infectious disease from National Taiwan University Hospital, said the H10N8 virus is similar to H7N9, and both diseases can be treated in the same way.

Huang pointed out that a death related to H10N8 does not mean the disease is severe. However, there is more to be discovered about avian flu. It is important to prohibit live-poultry markets to prevent the spread of the disease. Although live-poultry markets are currently forbidden in Taiwan, these kinds of markets still exist in mainland China and Southeast Asia.

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A traveler from mainland China captures a pigeon to take a picture in National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei. Actions such as this could lead to cases of avian flu infection, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said.

(CNA)

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