Archive for the ‘News’ Category


Mainland authorities have made a breakthrough in their investigation of the H7N9 bird flu virus, which has killed two more people, finding it in pigeon samples at a Shanghai market.

Authorities in the city began a cull of poultry following the discovery at the market, Xinhua reported early today.

Leading public health experts warned that more human cases of H7N9 were likely to be detected after health authorities stepped up their monitoring.

The Ministry of Agriculture said yesterday that the virus was found in a sample taken from a pigeon at the Huhuai Agricultural Products Wholesale Market in Shanghai’s Songjiang district. The strain was very similar to the strain detected in the 14 human patients infected to date. Five have died.

Professor Lu Hongzhou, a leading public health expert who has helped treat the cases in Shanghai and was one of the drafters of new national H7N9 flu prevention and control guidelines, said the discovery provided a link between the human flu and birds, although there might be other sources of transmission.

A 48-year-old man from Rugao , Jiangsu , who transported chickens and ducks for a living became the fourth person to die from the virus on Wednesday, Shanghai’s Commission of Health and Family Planning said yesterday. The man went to a private clinic with a cough and fever on Monday and then sought treatment at Tongji Hospital in Shanghai on Wednesday. He died hours later.

The authorities later confirmed a 52 year-old retired woman died of the virus on Wednesday at Huashan Hospital. They said two other local people, including a four-year-old boy, were confirmed infected with H7N9.

Four people in Shanghai have now died of the bird flu in the past month. The other death was in nearby Zhejiang .

Zhejiang’s health department announced the discovery of the province’s third H7N9 flu case yesterday – a 64-year-old farmer from Huzhou – bringing the number of people known to have been infected on the mainland to 14. The man showed symptoms on March 29 and was admitted to a hospital two days later.

Lu Hongzhong, the public health expert, warned more cases would emerge in the coming days as surveillance had been stepped up and it was likely some people had been infected but had not shown strong symptoms.

But even with more cases confirmed it was still a sporadic outbreak because no epidemiological link was found and no cluster outbreak, such as in schools, had been detected.

The outbreak has dealt a major blow to Shanghai’s poultry market, with dealers saying sales had plummeted.

A six-member team of Hong Kong experts set off on a two-day trip to Shanghai yesterday. Led by the Hospital Authority’s chief manager of infection, emergency and contingency, Dr Liu Shao-haei, the team will meet experts in Shanghai to discuss patients’ clinical situations and exchange views on treatment methods.

University of Hong Kong microbiologist Professor Yuen Kwok-yung is one of the team members.


Mainland health officials have been criticised by some doctors for suggesting traditional Chinese medicine and other alternative treatments to help ward off bird flu as the months-long process of creating a new vaccine gets under way.

Gansu’s health commission, for instance, encouraged residents to go outdoors, preferably into wooded areas, for fresh air and sunshine. Listening to music was also deemed an effective way to keep the H7N9 virus at bay.

Massaging the side of one’s nose was also said to help, as was exposing parts of one’s legs and stomach to incense once a day.

Health authorities in the eastern province of Jiangsu suggested a long list of herbal drinks, including the popular ban lan gen, a type of root that is often taken to fight the flu and was prescribed during the Sars outbreak a decade ago.

Dr Fang Shimin , biologist and a popular science writer on the mainland, was among those who questioned the clinical effectiveness of these methods.

In his microblog on Sohu .com he reminded people that Gansu health authorities have promoted the eating of pig’s feet as an effective treatment for various diseases, including Aids and cancer.

“The traditional Chinese medicine industry is trying to cash in,” he wrote.

Professor David Hui Shu-cheong, who teaches respiratory medicine at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said there was no scientific evidence to show that ban lan gen is effective at preventing influenza.

David Fong Wang-fun, a retired professor of Chinese medicine at Hong Kong’s Baptist University, said Chinese medical theories have long shown that ban lan gen functions as a health supplement, but it is not for emergency treatment.

Traditional Chinese medicine, even when effective, is sometimes greeted with scepticism because much of its purported benefits are not backed by the kind of laboratory evidence for its Western counterparts.

“The biggest headache regarding traditional Chinese medicine is that its effectiveness often cannot be explained,” said Dr Dong Xieliang, president of the Xian Xietong Hospital in Shaanxi . “The curing process can be so sophisticated it may not be simply explained scientifically, physically or chemically.”

Dong said mainland doctors found several herbal therapies helpful in relieving patients’ ailments during the fight against Sars and other flu outbreaks over the past decade.

However, a challenge has been that every herb has a side effect, and prescriptions are often very sophisticated, with more than a dozen herbs needed for maximum effectiveness.

Dong expressed concern that some misleading therapies proposed to fight the new bird flu could further damage the reputation of traditional Chinese medicine on the mainland. “Some advice is obviously wrong, such as going outdoors and eating certain kinds of food or herbs,” he said. “Effective treatment should be much more sophisticated.”



Preventive measures advocated by health organisations in China and elsewhere

National Health and Family Planning Commission

Avoid eating raw or half-cooked eggs and birds.

Beijing Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and Centre for Preventive Medical Research

Avoid contact with dead animals and wash hands frequently.

Jiangsu Health Bureau

Consume Chinese medicines ban lan gen (woad root) in granules and radix astragali oral liquid.

Guangxi Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

Avoid consumption of raw chicken and cook animal foodstuffs thoroughly.

Gansu Health Bureau

Massage facial acupuncture points and consume traditional Chinese medicine.

Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection

Cover the nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing, hold the spit with tissue and put it into covered dustbins.

World Heath Organisation

Cook food so that it reaches 70°C in all parts (with no pink parts).



SHANGHAI, April 4 (Xinhua) — Authorities in Shanghai said Thursday night that another person has died from H7N9 bird flu, bringing the death toll from the new deadly strain to five around the country.

The city has reported six infections to date, and four have died, said the Shanghai Municipal Health and Family Planning Commission.

Of the rest two, there was a four-year-old, the agency said. The baby was recovering from mild illness, it added.

The person died at Huashan Hospital on Wednesday and was confirmed infected with the H7N9 strain on Thursday. The commission gave no further information on the latest case.


Also on Thursday, the commission reported the city’s third death from the H7N9 bird flu.

The case involved a 48-year-old man surnamed Chu, a poultry transporter from Rugao in neighboring Jiangsu Province.

He developed symptoms of cough on March 28. After having a fever on Monday, he went to a private clinic for treatment. The man then sought help in the Tongji Hospital in Shanghai in the early hours of Wednesday after his condition worsened.

Chu died three hours after being admitted to the hospital. He was confirmed infected with the H7N9 virus on Thursday. Eight people who had close contact with him have shown no abnormal symptoms.

So far, China has confirmed 14 H7N9 cases — six in Shanghai, four in Jiangsu, three in Zhejiang and one in Anhui, in the first known human infections of the lesser-known strain. Of all, four died in Shanghai and one died in Zhejiang.

China’s Ministry of Agriculture said Thursday the H7N9 avian flu virus has been detected from pigeon samples collected at a marketplace in Songjiang District of Shanghai.

After gene sequence analysis, the national avian flu reference laboratory concluded that the strain of the H7N9 virus found on pigeons was highly congenetic with those found on persons infected with H7N9 virus.

The ministry has ordered beefed-up monitoring of H7N9 bird flu virus in more areas.

China’s health authorities have promised transparency and cooperation to the World Health Organization in regards to human infections of the new strain of bird flu.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that no human-to-human transmission of H7N9 has been discovered and no epidemiological connection between these cases has been found.

WHO confirms five deaths from China bird flu



BEIJING — A middle-aged man who transported poultry for a living and another unidentified person have died from a new strain of bird flu, bringing the death toll to five among 14 confirmed cases in China, the government and state media reported Thursday.

The 48-year-old man, who died in Shanghai, is one of several among the infected believed to have had direct contact with fowl. Until recently, the virus, called H7N9, was not known to infect humans.

The official Xinhua News Agency did not identify the fifth fatality, but said that person also died in Shanghai on Wednesday.

It said the Ministry of Agriculture confirmed on Thursday that the H7N9 virus had been detected in pigeons at a market selling agricultural products in Shanghai.

It is not known how people are becoming sick with the virus, and health officials and scientists caution that there are no indications it can be transmitted from one person to another. Scientists who have studied the virus’s genetic sequence said this week that the virus may have mutated, spreading more easily to other animals and potentially posing a bigger threat to humans.

Guidelines issued Wednesday by the national health agency identify butchers, breeders and sellers of poultry, and those in the meat processing industry as at higher risk.

Experts only identified the first cases on Sunday. Some among the 14 confirmed cases fell ill several weeks ago but only now are being classified as having H7N9.

Xinhua said six cases have been confirmed in Shanghai, four in Jiangsu, three in Zhejiang and one in Anhui.


Japan, Hong Kong on guard as China fights new bird flu 

(Reuters) – The death toll from a new strain of bird flu rose to five in China on Thursday as Beijing said it was mobilizing resources nationwide to combat the virus, Japan and Hong Kong stepped up vigilance and Vietnam banned imports of Chinese poultry.





• Two infections of H7N9 bird flu, involving one death, were reported in east China’s Zhejiang Province.
• The total number of infected people in China has been brought to nine, local authorities said.
• No epidemiological connection between the two cases has been found so far.

(Xinhua) — Two infections of H7N9 bird flu, involving one death, have been reported in east China’s Zhejiang Province, bringing the total number of infected people in the country to nine, local authorities said on Wednesday.

One of the infected has already died, said a statement issued by the provincial health department.

According to the statement, a 38-year-old chef surnamed Hong died on March 27. The man, who worked in Jiangsu Province, where four other cases of H7N9 bird flu have been identified, became ill on March 7 and returned to his home in Jiande, Zhejiang, where he was admitted to a hospital on March 18.

The provincial and national disease control centers confirmed on Monday and Wednesday, respectively, that he was infected with H7N9 avian influenza.

The other patient, a retired Hangzhou man surnamed Yang, was admitted to a hospital on March 25 with a cough and fever. He was transferred to another hospital for better treatment and remains hospitalized, according to the statement.

Provincial and national health authorities confirmed on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, that he is infected with the H7N9 avian influenza virus, the statement said.

No epidemiological connection between the two cases has been found so far.

A total of 183 people who came into contact with the two men have so far shown no symptoms of fever or respiratory illness, the statement added.

Zhejiang has initiated an emergency response for epidemics based on regulations of the Ministry of Health, and relevant departments have been asked to take precautionary actions toward disease control.

Seven other H7N9 bird flu cases had been reported previously, two in Shanghai, one in Anhui and four in Jiangsu. The two in Shanghai died and the other five are in critical conditions under treatment in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu.

Authorities in Chinese regions have ordered health institutions to step up monitoring.

On Wednesday, Pang Xinghuo, spokesman for the Beijing Municipal Disease Control and Prevention Center, said the capital would not rule out the possibility of H7N9 cases popping up.

“With a massive population flow every day, the metropolitan area cannot rule out H7N9 risks. However, with the battle experiences of SARS and H1N1 influenza outbreaks, the city has been well prepared for epidemic control,” according to Pang.

He said the center has ordered hospitals to include H7N9 bird flu testing in routine monitoring and to train hospital staff on how to treat pneumonia caused by unknown factors.

The subtype of H7N9 bird flu virus has not been contracted to human beings before. It shows no signs of being highly contagious among humans, according to the clinical observation on the cases’ close contacts.

However, as few cases of human infection of H7N9 have been found, relatively little research has been done on it. There are no vaccines against the H7N9 bird flu virus either at home or abroad.

China steps up monitoring after more H7N9 bird flu cases

Authorities in Chinese regions have ordered health institutions to step up monitoring of H7N9 bird flu as four more cases were reported Tuesday.

Four people in east China’s Jiangsu Province have been confirmed as being infected with the lesser-known H7N9 bird flu, bringing the total number of infections in the country to seven.

Statistics on pneumonia cases caused by unknown reasons will be reported daily in Shanghai where two people died from the first known human infections of the bird flu strain, the municipal government said in a press briefing Tuesday.

The city government will also set up an expert team to evaluate the severity and risk of the H7N9 bird flu, to step up research on the virus, and to closely watch the infections and people who have been in contact with them, it said.

On Monday, the Shanghai Animal Disease Prevention and Control Center tested 34 samples of pig carcasses pulled from the Huangpu River running through the city and providing it drinking water. It found no bird flu viruses.

Thousands of dead pigs were retrieved from the Huangpu River last month, sparking huge panic as well as satire among the public over tap water safety.

The health authorities in Jiangsu have designated 16 leading hospitals to accept new cases in a bid to offer better treatment and reduce the mortality rate.

The health bureau in Beijing has ordered hospitals to include the testing of H7N9 bird flu in routine monitoring and to train hospital staff on how to treat pneumonia caused by unknown factors.

Health authorities in Shandong Province have ordered morning tests of fever, cough and other respiratory symptoms at schools, nurseries and poultry farms.

The four patients, from four cities in Jiangsu Province, are in critical conditions and under emergency treatment, the Jiangsu provincial health bureau said Tuesday in a statement.

The four were confirmed as human infections with H7N9 avian influenza by an expert team summoned by the provincial health bureau, based on clinical observations, laboratory tests and epidemiological surveys Tuesday afternoon, the statement said. No mutual infections were discovered among them.

A total of 167 people who had come into contact with the four showed no symptoms of fever or respiratory illnesses, it said.

The four included a 45-year-old woman from Nanjing, a 48-year-old woman from Suqian, a 83-year-old man from Suzhou, and a 32-year-old woman from Wuxi, it said.

The woman in Jiangning district of Nanjing, surnamed Xu, fell ill with flu symptoms on March 19. She was transferred to a hospital intensive care unit in Nanjing on March 27 after her condition worsened, the statement said. She is a poultry culler.

The woman from Shuyang county of Suqian City fell ill on March 19 and was transferred to a hospital intensive care unit in Nanjing on March 30.

Tests by the Jiangsu provincial center for disease control and prevention found the two women positive of the H7N9 strain on March 30 and further tests by the Chinese center for disease control and prevention confirmed the results on April 2.

The man from Wujiang district of Suzhou City became ill on March 20 and was admitted to a local hospital on March 29. He was first tested positive of H7N9 bird flu on April 1.

The woman from Binhu district of Wuxi City fell ill on March 21 and was transferred to an intensive care unit of a hospital in Wuxi after her condition worsened on March 28. She was first tested positive of H7N9 bird flu on March 31.

On Sunday, three H7N9 bird flu cases were reported, two in Shanghai and one in Anhui, the first human infections of the bird flu strain. The two in Shanghai died and the one from Anhui is in critical condition and under treatment in Nanjing.

It is unclear how the three got infected, and no mutual infections were discovered among them, said the National Health and Family Planning Commission Sunday. No abnormalities were detected among 88 of their closest contacts.

The subtype of H7N9 bird flu virus has not been contracted to human beings before. The virus shows no signs of being highly contagious among humans, according to the clinical observation on the cases’ close contacts.




For over 5,000 years, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has claimed to be able to predict the state of your inner health simply by looking at your tongue. Now a smartphone app that does it all for us.

The traditional method bases its results on the flow and balance of positive and negative energies in the body.

However, in the modern world (and with technology on our side) gadget geeks have come up with a contemporary way to check our health using the power of the tongue… by creating a smartphone app that does it all for us. Read more…



LANZHOU/BEIJING – A local official in Northwest China’s Gansu province has triggered a furious dispute among the public after promoting traditional Chinese medicine on his microblog.

Liu Weizhong, 54, director of the Gansu provincial Department of Health, was given the nickname “pig foot director” by netizens after advocating the medical benefits of pig feet on multiple microblog accounts.

His microblog posts wouldn’t necessarily draw criticism on their own, but a recent report by the China Youth Daily stated that a local government website posted Liu’s medical articles on its own website.

“These articles might possibly mislead the public, as they may believe that the Gansu provincial government is supporting Liu’s recommendations. Liu Weizhong should be responsible for this,” said Wang Yukai, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance.

Social networking sites, including microblogs, have become increasingly popular in China in recent years. Government officials have also taken to using the sites, many of whom have come under scrutiny for controversial posts.

“Government officials need to behave themselves on the Internet because of their position. Their words are more powerful than those of ordinary citizens,” according to Zhu Lijia, another professor from the Chinese Academy of Governance.

Liu said that he was prepared to deal with possible controversies as a result of his blogging.

“Before I started to microblog, I heard from experts in Beijing that you need to be prepared to do so,” Liu said.

“I did not expect that so many people would curse me. I am clean in my position and I seldom hear curses. But on the microblogs, people do not know the “real me.” They just thought I was saying nonsense,” he said.

For his part, Liu did gain some support by answering questions from his online followers, many of them related to medicine.

“We had 340 patients here after the fatal landslide in Zhouqu (in Gansu province) and the fatal earthquake in Yushu (in Qinghai province). All of them had my pig foot soup and recovered soon,” said Liu, who has a medical license and studied medicine at the Lanzhou Medicine College in Lanzhou, capital of Gansu, from 1978 to 1982.

“Patients with serious ailments need nutritious food like pig foot soup. I never said that the soup was a type of medicine, only that it enhanced the effect of medicine,” Liu said.

However, Liu’s recommendations have been disparaged by others, including Xiao Ji, a postgraduate student of clinical medicine at Shanghai Communication University’s School of Medicine.

“It is dangerous to feed pig foot soup to patients. The soup can easily cause stress ulcers in their digestive systems,” Xiao said.

Liu was quick to apologize after the China Youth Daily report came out, stating on his microblog that it was “improper” for his articles to be published on the local government’s website.

“I lack experience. Netizens are welcome to raise suggestions regarding the local health department’s work, as well as questions about the development of traditional Chinese medicine,” he wrote.

“Liu Weizhong has maintained a positive attitude during the disputes, which has helped him a lot. Maybe other officials will learn from him,” said Nie Hualin, a professor at Lanzhou University.

“Officials who are used to hearing only praise instead of criticism will have to learn how to speak in front of the public. In a country with the world’s largest number of Internet users, it will be a long road for them,” Nie said.


BEIJING – ACUPUNCTURE and Peking Opera have been selected as candidates for Unesco intangible cultural heritage status.

‘That’s significant, particularly for acupuncture, which is widely practiced in more than 160 countries and regions worldwide,’ said Huang Jianyin, deputy secretary-general with the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies, a non-governmental organisation based in Beijing.

China filed the application last year.

‘Landing the status would help improve and secure the notion across the world that acupuncture and other traditional Chinese medical procedures were created in China by the Chinese,’ he told China Daily on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Chinese printing with wooden movable type, the technique for leak-proof partitions of Chinese junks and the Uygur folk performance Meshrep were also proposed for intangible cultural heritage status as they are in need of urgent safeguarding, the Paris-based organization said on Wednesday.


On November 4, 2010 Hong Kong Department of Health (DH) today urged members of the public not to buy or use a proprietary Chinese medicine (pCm) called “Cousedin Cold & Cough Relief Cap”, as it was found to exceed the permitted microbial limit. The product is manufactured by a local licensed pCm manufacturer,Merika Medicine Factory Limited, and is indicated for cough relief. Initially, on October 29, the Macao Health Bureau (MHB) detected excessive amounts of microorganisms in “Cousedin Cold & Cough Relief Cap” (batch number: 724345) during a surveillance exercise.The Bureau then instructed the local wholesaler to initiate a recall and also notified DH about the findings. Upon receiving the notification, DH mounted an investigation immediately.It was revealed that the concerned batch was manufactured in 2008 and was for export to Macao only. During inspection and examination of the plant, DH obtained samples of different batches of the same product along with other products made by the manufacturer for laboratory analyses. Results available today showed that the only other batch of “Cousedin Cold & Cough Relief Cap” ever produced (batch no. 927111) also exceeded the microbial limit.So far, no report has been received of consumers feeling unwell after having taken the product. Records indicated that there were a total of 2, 230 boxes in the affected batch, of which 853 had been sent to the Hong Kong market.While investigation will continue to ascertain the cause of contamination, DH has instructed the manufacturer to recall all of the “Cousedin Cold & Cough Relief Cap” (batch no. 927111) still in the local market. The manufacturer has already set up a hotline (2691 6631) to answer public enquiries about the recall. Consumers may also choose to submit the recalled products to DH’s Chinese Medicines Section at 2/F, Public Health Laboratory Centre, 382 Nam Cheong Street, Kowloon during office hours or to destroy them before disposal.

A DH spokesman remarked that the MHB has also been notified.He reminded any member of the public who has the product in hand to stop using it immediately and seek advice from healthcare professionals if they feel unwell.

Source: HKSAR Government


A leading pharmaceutical firm that produces traditional Chinese medicine in the northwestern Gansu Province is hoping to make Sweden its gateway to the European Union market after a landmark EU directive on herbal drugs takes effect in 15 months.

    ”We have applied to export our medicine to Sweden and eventually other EU markets,” said Sun Yu, deputy general manager of Foci Pharmaceuticals based in Lanzhou, the provincial capital.

    Sun said Friday he saw a ray of hope in a two-hour visit by Dr. Magnus Breidne, science counselor of the Swedish Embassy in China and Christina Chuck, general manager of the Stockholm-based Wilkris & Co, to his workshops on Thursday.

    Foci Pharmaceuticals, founded in 1929, has been selling herb extracted pills to 27 countries and regions including the United States, Canada, Japan, Germany, the Netherlands and Australia.

    It is China’s largest exporter of herbal products in terms of volume and number of destinations. But like all other Chinese herbal exporters, its pills are categorized as “food” or “healthcare products” instead of “drug” in the international market.

    EU’s Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive, issued in2004, however, requires all herbal medicine products to obtain an authorization to market within the EU starting in April 2011.

    The directive requires evidence proving 30 years’ use — of which 15 years must be in the EU community, to ensure safety.

    ”If we cannot obtain the authorization, our products will be taken off the shelves in EU next year,” said Sun Yu. “It’ll be a great loss for the Chinese industry as well as our European buyers who are relying on Chinese herbal medicine to keep fit.”

    As the only herbal pharmacy in China to have 15 years of presence in the EU, Sun said his company was still the most hopeful to cross the barrier. “There’s a technical, as well as a cultural, barrier to get over.”

    Foci failed to be accredited for sale in Britain in 2006. “We are hoping to enter the Swedish market, where the accreditation procedures are less strict,” said Sun.

    His company has applied for authorization of 10 product categories to be sold to Sweden. “We hope one or two will make it in the coming 15 months.”

    Dr. Breidne said the Swedes were not very familiar with herbal medicine. “But I suppose they will be quite interested.”

    Twenty years ago the Europeans had no idea about Chinese acupuncture. “Today, it’s popular among many women,” she said.

    While most Swedish thought herbal medicine might, to some extent, prevent illnesses, it still needed time and research to prove that the herbs were really effective and safe, she added.

    Chuck, from an industry insider’s perspective, suggested Chinese companies should study the international market from the westerners’ standpoint. “It’s also necessary to mark clearly the products’ ingredients and side effects, which are sometimes not listed properly in herbal medicine from China.”

    China exported 193 million U.S. dollars worth of herbal medicine to the EU in 2008, the most recent data available from the General Administration of Customs.

    The State Food and Drug Administration is working to enhance foreign exchanges and cooperation in the accreditation and authorization of traditional Chinese medicine in other countries, said Zhang Wei, an official in charge of drug accreditation.

    ”We’ll try to build a platform for traditional herbal medicine to enter the EU market,” he said.