GENEVA, Switzerland – China's National Health and Family Planning Commission reported an additional 17 laboratory-confirmed cases of human H7N9 infections, bringing the total confirmed cases to 126, including 24 deaths.

The 17 infections were reported in seven provinces — Zheijiang (4); Fujian (2); Jiangxi (4); Shandong (1); Hunan (2); Jiangsu (3); and Henan (1).

Public health authorities said the H7N9 avian flu may be the most lethal bird flu virus to emerge to date. The virus seems to spread through poultry flocks causing no visible signs of illness in the birds, therefore anyone handling live poultry may not be aware that birds are infected. However, WHO maintains there is no evidence of "sustained human-to-human transmission", and the organization is not recommending special screening points of entry or travel or trade restrictions.

Public health authorities in the affected locations continue to implement prevention and control measures, such as bird culls and live poultry market closures.