China’s capital reported on Saturday its first case of H7N9 avian influenza, which has infected 47 people in four eastern regions of the country, including 11 deaths.
Specialists at Beijing’s Ditan Hospital were treating a 7-year-old girl infected with the virus, the city health bureau reported on its website.
The unidentified girl was photographed by state media through the observation window of an isolation ward at the hospital.
The girl’s parents were poultry traders in Beijing’s outlying Shunyi district, but they showed no flu-like symptoms, the health bureau said.
China is the first country to report human infections with the H7N9 virus.
The other confirmed infections were in Shanghai and the nearby eastern provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui.
Officials in Jiangsu said two more infections were confirmed in the province on Saturday in a 77-year-old woman from Nanjing city and a 72-year-old man from nearby Changshu city.
Both patients were in critical condition and receiving emergency treatment in isolation wards at two hospitals, the provincial health bureau said.
Two more cases were also reported in Zhejiang on Saturday in a 65-year-old man and a 38-year-old man.
Chinese health authorities and the World Health Organisation have played down fears of an epidemic, saying there is no evidence of human-to-human transmission.
State media said medical and veterinary experts met recently in Beijing to examine a possible link between the new bird flu strain and migratory birds.
The new virus was “closely related to Eurasian migratory birds,” but the experts believed it must have been transmitted to humans through an intermediary host, most likely poultry, the official Xinhua news agency said.