The Power of Social Media: Updates on H7N9 Outbreak From Weibo

Yesterday, a “gutsy” employee at Nanjing Gulou Hospital posted a picture, confirming a case of H7N9, to Weibo, a Chinese microblogging network similar to Twitter (except Weibo is censured by the Chinese government). In a movement that demonstrated the power of social media, this Weibo user forced the hand of hospital officials to publicly confirm this case, via Weibo.

At the time of this posting, there are nine confirmed H7N9 avian influenza cases, three of them fatal. The first two cases were identified in Shanghai. These two cases died on February 27 and March 4. A third case was confirmed in the Anhui Province and is currently in critical condition. On April 2, Jiangsu province officials confirmed an additional four cases of H7N9, which took the total count to two deaths and seven cases (inclusive). According to AFP, one of these patients was later moved Zhejiang for treatment, and died there today. Also according to AFP and local Chinese media, a 67 year-old-male presented to the hospital in Zhejiang on April 2 with cough and fever. The Chinese CDC reportedly confirmed this patient as the eighth case of human H7N9.

This latest case confirmation on Weibo brings the total case count to nine, with three deaths. The Nanjing case is being treated and is in isolation. Hospital officials, in their response Weibo post, assured people that there is no need to fear and that anyone with flu-like symptoms should seek medical attention.

The information from the Weibo post reveals that the suspected case worked at a poultry processing market. The patient developed symptoms, including a fever and cough, on March 19 and sought medical attention at the Jiangnin District Traditional Medicine Hospital on March 23. Once the symptoms worsened and the patient was put on a respiratory machine, the patient was transferred to Nanjing Gulou Hospital. On March 30, preliminary testing by the Nanjing CDC suggested that the patient was H7N9 positive.

Also according to Weibo posts, nurses treating the patient in Nanjing developed fevers and have been isolated.


Make sure to check out the WHO Frequently Asked Questions on H7N9. Stay tuned for more updated from HealthMap on Facebook, Twitter (@HealthMap) and The Disease Daily.


(Many links are for the breaking and early stories from Chinese media. Please use Google Translate for English versions). 

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