TAIPEI, April 24 (Xinhua) -- Taiwan health authorities confirmed the island's first human infection of H7N9 avian flu on Wednesday.
A 53-year-old Taiwanese man was confirmed to be infected with the new type of bird flu virus, said a statement from the island's disease control authority.
The patient is believed to have been infected outside Taiwan as he showed symptoms three days after returning from Suzhou City in Jiangsu Province, the statement said.
The patient returned to Taiwan on April 9 after having stayed in Suzhou since March 28. He showed symptoms of a fever on April 12 and went to see a doctor on April 16 because he had a high temperature.
The hospital did not confirm his infection of the H7N9 virus until Wednesday morning though he had a lung infection and suffered respiratory failure, the statement said. It added that the hospital had tested him twice before Wednesday but the results had been negative.
The patient said he did not have any contact with birds or eat undercooked poultry or eggs during his stay in Suzhou, the statement said.
The patient, who is Hepatitis-B-positive and suffers from high blood pressure, is in a serious condition, the statement said.
A total of 139 people who have had contact with him are being monitored, including three close contacts, 26 general contacts and 110 medical workers, the statement said.
Three of the medical workers, all wearing protective gear when treating the patient, have shown respiratory symptoms, it said.
Taiwan health authorities informed the mainland's counterpart earlier on Wednesday, the statement said.
Taiwan authorities have stepped up monitoring of travelers who have been to the areas reporting H7N9 cases in the mainland and showed symptoms of fever and cough. Hospitals are asked to report such cases within 24 hours.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Fan Liqing, spokeswoman with the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, said as of Monday the mainland had provided 21 reports updating Taiwan on H7N9 bird flu.
Samples of the human H7N9 avian flu strain that the mainland has provided Taiwan with for joint research efforts arrived on the island on April 20. The mainland has arranged for experts from the island to visit Beijing for a better understanding of the disease, according to Fan.
As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, a total of 108 H7N9 cases had been reported in the mainland, including 22 that ended in death.