UPDATE January 27, 2014 3:15pm Since this story published, new information has been received indicating that a second patient, with a new strain of avian flu, has been identified. Read more from our sister site at beijingkids.
It’s ba-a-ack: Beijing confirmed its first case of H7N9 influenza this year, as reported by the Xinhua News Agency. Also known as avian influenza or bird flu, the patient is currently receiving treatment for the illness at Ditan Hospital.
The patient said he had purchased live pigeons and later eaten their meat, before starting to show flu-like symptoms. Although tests of local meat markets produced no positive results, the Beijing Municipal Government still decided on Sunday to suspend live poultry sales in the face of this latest outbreak.
In 2013, there were only two reported cases of H7N9 in Beijing, neither of which were fatal. A World Health Organization (WHO) report on January 21 indicated that the risk of a H7N9 epidemic was no greater now than at any other time.
However, Beijing is no stranger to influenza outbreaks. In 2003, the city was an epicenter of a Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic that closed schools, most public venues, and many businesses for months.
Photo: World Health Organization