Beijing confirms first case of H7N9 bird flu

Beijing confirms first case of H7N9 bird flu

Beijing confirms first case of H7N9 bird flu

Updated 13 April 2013, 14:29 AEST

A seven-year-old girl in Beijing has been infected with H7N9 bird flu, the first confirmed case in the Chinese capital.

Until the announcement, which came via the state-run news agency Xinhua, all 43 previous human cases of the H7N9 outbreak - 11 of which have been fatal - had been confined to eastern China.

Xinhua said the latest infection was announced by local health authorities and was confirmed following a test by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

China officials announced nearly two weeks ago that they had found the strain in humans for the first time.

Health authorities in the country say they do not know exactly how the virus is spreading, but it is believed to be crossing to humans from birds, triggering a mass culling of poultry in several Chinese cities.

Shanghai has had 20 confirmed cases so far and was the first to halt trading in live poultry and cull birds last week, followed by other cities in eastern China.

Experts fear the prospect of such viruses mutating into a form easily transmissible between humans has the potential to trigger a pandemic.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said earlier this week that there was as yet no evidence of human-to-human transmission.

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) on Thursday said H7N9 bird flu posed an "exceptional situation", explaining that the virus, while dangerous to humans, was hard to detect in the avian host.

China has said it expects to have a vaccine ready in seven months.