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 January 21, 2014
Tests confirm doctor who died infected with bird flu

 A Shanghai emergency room doctor who died of pneumonia and respiratory failure on Saturday had the H7N9 bird flu virus.

The 31-year-old Zhang Xiaodong was one of the two deaths of patients infected with the virus, the Shanghai Health and Family Planning Commission reported yesterday.

Zhang worked at the Pudong New Area People's Hospital.

The commission said Zhang started to show symptoms on January 11 and self-medicated before seeking treatment at the hospital on January 15 when his symptoms didn't improve.

His condition deteriorated and he was admitted to the intensive care unit at 8:47am. He died on Saturday at 4:59am.

Zhang had spent time at his parents' home on January 4, an investigation found. Their neighbor raises pigeons.

There is also a wet market where live poultry are sold opposite the hospital.

Zhang had no contact with people having flu like symptoms 10 days before he developed symptoms. So far his contacts haven't shown abnormal symptoms.

Patients treated by Zhang are also undergoing checks but no abnormal symptoms have been found so far.

The commission said samples from Zhang tested positive for the H7N9 virus on Sunday.

Dr Lu Hongzhou, director of the city's expert group for H7N9 diagnosis and treatment, took part in a group consultation on Zhang last Friday.

"He denied he was in close contact with live poultry," Lu said.

Contact with poultry

The other patient who died was a 77-year-old local farmer surnamed Wu, also early on Saturday. He was diagnosed as having the infection on Sunday.

Wu had a history of contact with live poultry.

His close contacts had also been under medical observation and no one had shown flu-like symptoms so far, the commission said.

Experts said the public needn't panic as there was no evidence the virus could spread between humans. Proper personal hygiene and avoiding contact with live poultry were the best ways people could protect themselves.

Shanghai has reported seven cases of H7N9 infection this year. The cases were considered sporadic --- not an epidemic --- and everyone who had close contact with infected patients had been under medical observation but no abnormal symptoms had been detected, the health and family planning commission said.

Shanghai's live poultry markets will shut from the end of this month until April 30 in a bid to prevent more cases.

Neighboring Zhejiang Province reported six more cases of H7N9 in the past two days.

The new cases brought the number of infections in Zhejiang so far this year to 26, the most of all regions nationwide, according to the province's health and family planning commission.

All six patients, five males and one female aged from 53 to 71, are in a critical or severe condition.

Experts from the provincial center for disease control and prevention warned that with more live poultry markets being contaminated, more cases could be reported in the Lunar New Year holiday season due to increases in poultry consumption.

Human cases of H7N9 have also been reported in Jiangsu, Fujian and Guangdong provinces.

The southern province of Guangdong reported its third H7N9 death yesterday.