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As H7N9 Bird Flu Spreads in China, Taiwan Administers Travel Warnings

Travelers Today       By    Maxine Wally

Updated: Apr 29, 2013 01:53 PM EDT

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Chinese officials reported an outbreak of H7N9 bird flu in Hunan Province Sunday, causing neighboring island Taiwan to expand travel warnings to tourists in the mainland.

According to Forbes, Hunan is the tenth mainland area to issue a level-2 travel advisory, which means that travel may be restricted and citizens should take extra hygienic care. It is the second highest level of a local travel advisory.

Other provinces that have issued statements on H7N9 bird flu include Jiangsu, the northern province of Henan, Shandong, Fujian, Shanghai and Beijing.

More than a hundred people in China have been affected in the last two months, including one case in which a 53-year-old Taiwanese man who made frequent trips to the mainland Chinese city of Suzhou for business, contracted H7N9.

He became feverish upon his return to Taiwan, and after initial tests administered Wednesday, he was diagnosed with the virus.

He was put in a solitary room, sealed off from others. Although this strain of avian flu is not known to spread from person-to-person contact, the health workers with whom he came into contact are also being screened for potential contraction.

Scientists believe H7N9 is passed around through poultry.

As of Tuesday last week, the number upped to 108 cases, including 22 deaths.

In Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center, surveillance has been tightened and screenings for the fever have widened to almost all travelers coming from mainland China, reports the New York Times.

Dr. Keiji Fukuda, an assistant director general at the World Health Organization described this kind of bird flu as, "unusually dangerous," during a news conference in Beijing last Wednesday.

"The virus is definitely one of the most lethal influenza viruses we've seen," he commented.

American health officials have been told not to make moves to China anytime soon.

China first experienced a widely-covered bird flu scare about ten years ago, when the H5N1 virus killed almost 371 people. 

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