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Taiwanese H7N9 patient making good recovery: hospital
Central News Agency
2013-05-08 10:45 AM
Taipei, May 8 (CNA) The health of Taiwan's only H7N9 bird flu patient has improved to the point where he has been removed from his ventilator, and he may be moved a normal ward soon, National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) said Tuesday. "The patient has been taken off the ventilator, is no longer testing positive for the virus and has been taken off the anti-flu drug Tamiflu," said Chang Shang-chun, the hospital's deputy superintendent. "If all goes well, the patient can be transferred to a normal ward in the next couple of days for continued treatment and recuperation," Chang said at a news briefing late Tuesday. The 53-year-old man, identified only by his family name Lee, has received intensive treatment in a negative pressure quarantine ward since April 20 after testing positive for the H7N9 virus following his return to Taiwan from China on April 9. At the most serious juncture of his illness, the patient was put on a ventilator and given extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) therapy. He was taken off the ECMO, a machine that functions as an artificial lung, on May 2. "While the patient is clearly conscious and his health is improving steadily, he nevertheless remains weak and still suffers from shortness of breath," Chang said at the briefing, given with the consent of the patient's family. "It is still not sure when Lee can be discharged from the hospital," he added. The H7N9 strain of bird flu virus was unknown in humans until it was identified in sick people in China in March this year. Scientists in China and other countries said the virus has jumped from birds, most probably chickens, to humans. The virus has so far infected at least 129 people in China and killed 31 of them, according to the latest data from China's health authorities and the World Health Organization (WHO). To date, Taiwan is the only place outside China that has reported an imported H7N9 case. Chang said the virus sample obtained from Lee is expected to be used for virological study to analyze its genetic makeup, clinical symptoms and drug effects. A Reuters report said Tuesday that the WHO and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have prepared samples of the virus to give to manufacturers for vaccine production. New cell-culture technology developed by Novartis AG has reduced the production timeline for vaccines to a matter of weeks, although human safety trials will still require several months, the report said. Major flu vaccine manufacturers include Sanofi SA , GlaxoSmithKline Plc, Novartis, Australia's CSL Ltd, Baxter International Inc and AstraZeneca Plc, according to the report. The two main drugs that appear to be effective against the new H7N9 flu strain are Roche Holding AG's Tamiflu and GlaxoSmithKline's Relenza, the report said. (By Chen Ching-fang and Sofia Wu)
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