Bird flu H7N4 outbreak: Four symptoms to watch for after first ever human case confirmed

The first ever human case of H7N4 bird flu  - a new type of avian influenza virus - was confirmed in China on Wednesday. 

The virus was found in a 68-year-old woman from Jiangsu province, who has since recovered after falling ill on December 25. 

According to China’s National health and Family Planning Commission, the patient, known by the surname Tang, had contact with live poultry before getting sick and was discharged from hospital on January 22 after “recovering from her illness”. 

There are many different strains of the bird flu virus - many don’t infect humans. But three that have caused concern in recent years around the world, including  H5N1 (since 1997), H7N9 (since 2013) and H5N6 (since 2014). 

No humans in the UK have been infected with these strains, but if an outbreak was to appear in Britain, what are the signs and symptoms to look out for?

Like other types of flu, the NHS says bird flu symptoms often include: 

  • A high temperature (fever) 
  • Aching muscles 
  • Headache 
  • Respiratory symptoms, such as a cough or runny nose

Some early symptoms that have been reported include: 

  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Chest pain 
  • Bleeding from the nose and gums

How do you treat bird flu? 

People with suspected symptoms of bird flu will be advised to stay at home or be cared for in hospital in isolation from other patients. 

Other recommendations by the NHS are: 

  • Resting 
  • Drinking plenty of fluids and eating healthily
  • Taking medication to help treat fever and pain, such as aspirin and paracetamol

The world’s first human cases of bird flu were reported in Hong Kong in 1997, when six people were killed by the H5N1 strain of the virus. 

Hundreds more have died worldwide in subsequent outbreaks, specially of strains like H7N9, reports Mail Online. 

A spokesperson from Hong Kong’s centre for health protection has issued the following advice: “Travellers to the mainland or other affected areas must avoid visiting wet markets, live poultry markets or farms. They should be alert to the presence of backyard poultry when visiting relatives and friends. 

“They should also avoid purchasing live or freshly slaughtered poultry, and avoid touching poultry/birds or their droppings. They should strictly observe personal and hand hygiene when visiting any place with live poultry.

“Travellers returning from affected areas should consult a doctor promptly if symptoms develop, and inform the doctor of their travel history for prompt diagnosis and treatment of potential diseases.”

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