Chinese officials first notified the public of two deaths from the H7N9 flu on Sunday when they reported the deaths of two men in the city of Shanghai. One of the victims, only 27, worked butchering birds for food.
On Tuesday, health authorities released an update, stating that at least five more people were critically ill. One 45-year-old woman also worked as a butcher, but officials hadn’t been able to figure out where the other victims caught the illness.
On Thursday night local time, the Shanghai Municipal Health and Family Planning Commission (MHFPC) said that the total of deaths had reached five — five of them in Shanghai, China and the world’s largest city.
In earlier reports, no one was sure where the virus came from, but, on Thursday, an agriculture official said that the H7N9 flu virus had now been detected from pigeons in a Shanghai marketplace. Health workers performed a genetic analysis which proved that the strain in those pigeons is almost certainly the same one that’s infecting people.
According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Thursday update, the disease can kill fast. A 48-year-old man who first felt sick on March 28 is one of the new deaths. So is a 64-year-old man who got sick on March 29.
WHO said that the Chinese government is actively working to investigate the event and prevent the further spread of the disease.
Because it can’t be spread by human-to-human contact, the WHO doesn’t advise any travel restrictions as a result of the H7N9 bird flu outbreak.