SHANGHAI – The World Health Organization confirmed 21 deaths in China caused by the H7N9 avian influenza virus.

To date, China has reported 104 laboratory-confirmed cases of the virus, and public health authorities in China continue to implement disease prevention and control measures, according to WHO.

“Investigations into the possible sources of infection and reservoirs of the virus are ongoing,” the organization said. “Until the source of infection has been identified, it is expected that there will be further cases of human infection with the virus in China. So far, there is no evidence of ongoing human-to-human transmission.”

China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission invited a team of experts from WHO to visit affected areas around Shanghai and Beijing in order to provide recommendations on prevention and control of the virus. The team includes international and Chinese experts in epidemiology, laboratories, clinical management, and other areas, according to Dr. Michael O'Leary, a WHO representative in China who is traveling with the team.

Dr. O'Leary said "...this mission is an opportunity for international influenza experts to learn from people at the front lines of their findings on this new virus. It also gives Chinese local experts the chance to direct their questions to world experts.

“The public health world is one with few boundaries, as diseases can emerge in any country, and do not respect national borders,” he added. “The international community of influenza experts, in which China is an important player, exemplifies this “one-world” view.”