The Story Of 'Patient 8,' A Man Killed By Bird Flu In 20 Days

doctor bird flu china hangzhou zhejiang

20 days after visiting the poultry market, Hongming was dead.

He had been infected with the new bird flu virus, first reported in Shanghai, called H7N9.

Hongming was known patient number 8. He worked in Jiangsu Province, China. He was 38 years old and the fifth person to die of the new virus.

Sharon Sanders, Editor-in-Chief and President of FluTrackers — where a full list of flu cases is available — recreated the timeline of his illness from the story originally told in Chinese by Wei Chen Xiaoyan Zhao of China Economic Net.

Day 1: On March 9, he prepares braised chicken, which his family, including a 3-year-old boy and a 13-year-old daughter, eats. He doesn't eat the chicken (he prefers pork) but this is presumably where he got infected with the virus.

Day 2: The first symptoms of the bird flu start: diarrhoea.

Day 5: Hongming is too tired to bike to the market to get vegetables.

Day 10: Finally, he heads back to his family in Hangzhou, and gives in and goes to a modern hospital in Xiaoshan District, Hangzhou for treatment, where he is admitted.

Day 11: Hongming reports feeling better, likely because of the treatment at the hospital.

Day 13: On March 21 Hongming is put on a ventilator after his blood oxygen drops and scans show that he has an infection of his lungs. He isn't responding to the pneumonia treatment.

Day 15: The infection has spread to both lungs. He's strapped to the bed so he doesn't try to remove the ventilator tube. He is unconscious because of the drugs that they have given him.

Day 16 and 17: Experts come and see him, but can't find a diagnosis that fits. After a promising chest X-ray, on March 25 his kidneys fail and he is put on dialysis. They receive word that Hongming tested positive for influenza A virus, but not one they've seen before. At this point, a test for the H7N9 virus hadn't been created yet.

Day 18: His symptoms have continued to worsen. Doctors say he is gravely ill, but he is still lucid. On that evening, his condition worsens and nothing worked. His organs are failing and the ventilator is the only thing keeping him alive. His wife decides to bring him home and remove the ventilator.

Day 19: On March 27 Hongming dies from multi-organ failure. He was 38.

Hongming was the province's first death from this new bird flu.

Now, more than 70 people have been infected by the virus and 16 people have died from it across China.

The virus seems to come from contact with birds, but we don't know for sure yet. We don't know yet if it can be transferred between people, but as the virus evolves, it might gain that ability.

Bird Flu isn't the only problem plaguing China.

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