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September 22, 2017

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Bird flu patient in critical condition

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The first person in Taiwan to contract H7N9 avian influenza this year is in critical condition, the Kaohsiung City government reported on Monday.

The patient, a 69-year-old Taiwanese businessman, has been moved to the intensive care unit of a local hospital as his condition has worsened, the Kaohsiung Department of Health reported.

Also yesterday, national disease control authorities reported Taiwan's first case of the highly pathogenic H5N6 avian influenza virus, saying it had been confirmed in a dead gosling in Hualien.

Flu-like Symptoms

The bird flu patient had displayed symptoms of the flu while he was in Guangdong province late last month.

Upon returning to Kaohsiung on Jan. 25, he was flagged at the airport on suspicions that he had contracted the Influenza A virus subtype H7N9.

He sought hospital treatment on Jan. 29 as his condition worsened, but he tested negative for H7N9 and did not comply with doctor's orders to check himself into the hospital.

The patient instead returned to his home in Kaohsiung's Meinong District and took flu medicine to combat the disease, according to the Kaohsiung Department of Health.

Kaohsiung health authorities said that the hospital had reported the patient to Meinong public health officials so that they could follow up on the case.

On Feb. 1, the patient returned to the hospital and was initially diagnosed with pneumonia before being confirmed to have contracted H7N9.

He was then transferred to another hospital, where he remains unconscious and in critical condition.

There has not yet been a case of human-to-human bird flu infection, Kaohsiung City's Department of Health Director Huang Chih-chung (黃志中) told reporters, stressing that they would remain alert and were monitoring the health of the patient's family.

The city has established an epidemic prevention unit to monitor the 139 people who had come into contact with the patient.

The department reported that only one of the 139 cases had developed flu-like symptoms, but the patient had recovered after seeking medical treatment.

According to the Agriculture Department of the Miaoli County Government, the H7N9 virus is more damaging to infected humans than it is to infected birds.

A spokesperson for the agriculture department said poultry tended to show no symptoms after contracting H7N9, while humans often developed pneumonia and other breathing difficulties.

Dead Gosling in Hualien

Also on Monday, the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine held an emergency press conference to report the first case of Influenza A virus subtype H5N6 found in Taiwan.

The H5N6 virus can be transmitted between species.

The bureau said the virus had been detected in a dead gosling in Hualien County, but that it was likely an isolated case, as the goose was from a small family farm.

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