Bird Flu Causing Suffocation Shows Severe Spectrum of New Virus; Bird flu turned fatal for a 52- year-old Shanghai woman whose lungs became so damaged that she began to suffocate, causing her vital organs to rapidly shut down; “The big question here is, are these severe cases the tip of a very big iceberg or do most cases get really ill like this?’

Bird Flu Causing Suffocation Shows Severe Spectrum of New Virus

Bird flu turned fatal for a 52- year-old Shanghai woman whose lungs became so damaged that she began to suffocate, causing her vital organs to rapidly shut down, doctors in China said.

The retiree became ill March 27, with a fever that soared as high as 40.6 degrees Celsius (105.1 Fahrenheit), doctors at Huashan Hospital in Shanghai wrote in a report on the case in the journal Emerging Microbes & Infections. Treatment with intravenous antibiotics, steroids, antibody therapy, and mechanical ventilation failed to help, and she died April 3.

Her illness, the first H7N9 avian influenza case to be described in a medical journal, highlights the seriousness of the new strain, which has sickened at least 35 people in eastern China, killing 10, in the past two months. Hospital doctors didn’t know the cause of the woman’s illness when she was admitted. Tests identified the H7N9 virus after she died.

“What they had here was a seriously ill patient and they didn’t know what was going on,” said Dominic Dwyer, director of the Institute of Clinical Pathology and Medical Research at Sydney’s Westmead Hospital, who reviewed the case report. “This person was so ill, they just threw everything” at her.More than two dozen cases have been reported since the woman’s death, spurring heightened vigilance for the new strain, which the World Health Organization said doesn’t appear to be spreading from person to person.

Anti-flu Drugs

“All fatal cases in Shanghai, including this patient, were admitted to hospital very late until the symptom of shortness of breath developed,” Feifei Yang and colleagues at Huashan Hospital wrote in the journal.

Without knowing the cause of their disease, the patients weren’t offered anti-flu drugs, such as Roche Holding AG’s (ROG) Tamiflu, that might have helped them fight the virus, especially if taken within the first few days of their illness, the authors said.

The woman began experiencing fevers and chills on March 27. After several days, she developed a cough, tightness in her chest and difficulty breathing. A chest X-ray showed severe pneumonitis and she was given antibiotics. Her condition worsened and a week after her symptoms began, she was hospitalized for acute respiratory distress syndrome and died the next day.

Blood tests showed cardiac enzymes that suggest the patient had a heart attack, Dwyer said, referring to the published case report. Her heart complications may have been caused by the virus directly or the effects of “trying to push blood through a very heavily congested lung,” he said.

“This is what happens with severe influenza, even if it doesn’t go outside the lung,” Dwyer said. “The big question here is, are these severe cases the tip of a very big iceberg or do most cases get really ill like this?’

To contact the reporter on this story: Jason Gale in Melbourne at j.gale@bloomberg.net

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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