Posts Tagged ‘bird flu’


The most sought-after commodity in areas hit by the H7N9 flu outbreak is a 10-yuan ($1.60) herbal remedy, indigowoad roots, or banlangen, which has been selling out in stores across Shanghai and Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui provinces.

Daily supplies at pharmacies are being cleared within hours, and demand is so high the government has imposed strict price restrictions to prevent profiteering.

No one is absolutely certain what the humble herb can do to fight the disease, but Jiangsu provincial health bureau said on April 3 that banlangen can keep the H7N9 virus at bay, something which has eluded most advanced medicines, suggested pharmacists.

“No one knows what might happen with bird flu, so they are buying it,” said a clerk at the Renshoutang Pharmacy in Shanghai.

Xiong Wei, the general manager of LBX Pharmacy in Shanghai, said sales of the herb surged between Thursday and Sunday.

“Demand soared from April 3. We had to order 4,800 packets of banlangen the next day from Hangzhou because some stores in Shanghai reported a shortage.

“By Saturday, almost every city in the Yangtze River Delta had reported a shortage and we have had to order the drug from other parts of the country.”

On usual days, Xiong said LBX sells about 300 packets of banlangen a day. Ever since the bird flu outbreak, sales have been about 10 times that.

More than 3,000 packets were sold on Sunday, Xiong added, although sales had calmed in recent days.

“But we have promised not to raise prices at any of our stores, and hope other drugstores don’t either.”

An employee surnamed Yang at the pharmacy of Shanghai Shuguang Hospital, which is affiliated to Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, said: “Banlangen at our hospital is priced at 5.4 yuan a pack.

“So far sales have been steady, with no significant growth.”

Price control officials in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, released a notice on Monday urging that prices of all traditional Chinese medicines sold at drugstores and hospitals should not be allowed to increase during the prevention and control period of bird flu.

Xue Li, a sales representative at Nepstar drugstore in South Huaxia Road in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, said it had been selling banlangen in nine- and 10-yuan packs, ever since the news of the outbreak was reported at the beginning of this month.

“For the cheaper ones, fewer than 10 packets are left at the end of every day.”

Hua Liping, the manager of a drugstore near Wuxi People’s Hospital, said they have been running out of banlangen since Saturday, and was not sure whether they could have the drug restocked until Tuesday.

There are seven major producers of banlangen drugs in China, with Hutchison Whampoa Guangzhou Baiyunshan Chinese Medicine Co the largest, with about 60 percent of the market.

Last year the company’s banlangen sales were worth 336 million yuan.



Hong Kong (CNN) – Chinese authorities have killed more than 20,000 birds from a live-poultry trading zone in Shanghai after an unusual strain of bird flu that has so far killed six people in the country was found in pigeons on sale in the city, state-run media outlet Xinhua reported Friday. Details see…



By Bob Flaws, LAc, FNAAOM (USA), FRCHM (UK)

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), avian influenza is an infection caused by bird flu viruses. These influenza viruses occur naturally among birds and, although wild birds worldwide carry the viruses in their intestines, they do not usually get sick from them.

However, avian influenza is very contagious among birds and can make some domesticated birds, including chickens, ducks and turkeys, very sick and can kill them. Infected birds shed the influenza virus in their saliva, nasal secretions, and feces. Susceptible birds become infected when they come in contact with contaminated secretions or excretions or with surfaces that are contaminated with secretions or excretions from infected birds. Domesticated birds may become infected with avian influenza virus through direct contact with infected waterfowl or other infected poultry; through contact with surfaces such as dirt or cages; or materials, such as water or feed, that have been contaminated with the virus.


Infection with avian influenza viruses in domestic poultry causes two main forms of disease that are distinguished by low and high extremes of virulence. The low pathogenic form may go undetected and usually causes only mild symptoms, such as ruffled feathers and a drop in egg production. However, the highly pathogenic form spreads more rapidly through flocks of poultry. This form may cause disease that affects multiple internal organs and has a mortality rate that can reach 90 percent to 100 percent, often within 48 hours.

The risk from bird flu is generally low to most people because the viruses do not usually infect humans. However, confirmed cases of human infection from several subtypes of avian influenza infection have been reported since 1997. Most cases of avian influenza infection in humans have resulted from contact with infected poultry (i.e., domesticated chicken, ducks and turkeys) or surfaces contaminated with secretion/excretions from infected birds. The spread of avian influenza viruses from one ill person to another has been rarely reported, and transmission has not been observed to continue beyond one person.

Symptoms of avian influenza in humans have ranged from typical human influenza-like symptoms, such as fever, cough, sore throat, and muscle aches, to eye infections, pneumonia, severe respiratory diseases, such as acute respiratory distress, and other severe and life-threatening complications. The symptoms of bird flu may depend on which virus caused the infection. Studies done in laboratories suggest that some of the prescription medicines approved in the United States for human influenza viruses should also work in treating avian influenza infection in humans. However, influenza viruses can become resistant to these drugs. Therefore, these medications may not always work. Additional studies are needed to demonstrate the effectiveness of these medicines.1

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there have been a total of 31 cases worldwide of avian influenza and 20 deaths from Jan. 1 to March 8, 2006.2 Also as of March 8, 2006, the Ministry of Health in the People’s Republic of China had reported 10 deaths from H5N1 avian influenza in that country alone.3 Public health officials and organizations around the world remain on high alert because of increasing concerns about the prospect of an influenza pandemic which many experts believe to be inevitable. Moreover, recent problems with the availability and strain-specificity of vaccine for annual flu epidemics in some countries and the rise of pandemic strains of avian flu in disparate geographic regions have alarmed experts about the world’s ability to prevent or contain a human pandemic.4

Because Chinese medicine has a long history of treating various viral conditions successfully and because so many cases of avian influenza in humans have occurred in China, it is only natural for practitioners of Chinese medicine worldwide to ask what our medicine has to offer for the protection and treatment of this condition. On pages 441-443 of issue No. 6, 2005 of Tian Jin Zhong Yi Yao (Tianjin Chinese Medicine & Medicinals), the Tianjin Municipal Group of Experts on the Prevention and Treatment of Avian Influenza With Chinese Medicine and Medicinals published an article titled, “Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Human Infection by Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza with Chinese Medicine and Medicinals.” Therefore, below is an abstract of this article’s discussion of the treatment based on pattern discrimination of the various stages of this disease.



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