May 2, 2013
H7N9: A New Strain of Bird Flu Strikes Again
According to redOrbit, a new strain of bird flu is on the rise in China. It is called H7N9, and is particularly dangerous. As of last week, this bird flu had infected more than 100 people in China with 23 of these dying from the flu. Another redOrbit report stated that health officials announced a couple of days ago that this bird flu has made its way into China’s Hunan Province as of recently. A 64-year-old woman, who goes by the surname Guan, was confirmed to have contracted the novel bird flu strain.
Now, though, it has made its way out of China and into Taiwan. CNN also reported on the Taiwanese man’s infection explaining that he was a 53-year-old man who regularly traveled back and forth between China’s Jingsu province and Taiwan.
In both the 64-year-old woman’s case and this 53-year-old man’s, both had regular contact with other humans with none of these contracting the H7N9 bird flu from the infected. In fact, both CNN and redOrbit explained that there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission, which means to those of us not in the medical field that thus far it does not seem to be contagious from other humans on a grand level. Mostly, the infections come only from the birds or other sources with limited to no person-to-person transmission.
So, just where did this H7N9 bird flu come from? Well, as redOrbit explained, researchers in China analyzed samples of the H7N9 virus collected from live poultry markets in Shanghai and Anhui where they found that the viruses circulating amongst birds there matched that which has infected humans.
Dr. Keiji Fukuda, with the World Health Organization (WHO), recently explained that this bird flu strain is one of the most lethal seen. For that reason, China sent samples to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has “shared them with five laboratories to study the virus and develop a vaccine. While the new strain has yet to make the switch to humans infecting humans, the CDC said a vaccine will be important if it does make that leap, hopefully keeping a global pandemic from breaking out. Researchers are worried that this strain may be much better at making that jump than others have in the past.”
The H5N1 bird flu of the mid-2000s infected 622 people and has killed 371 thus far. If this new H7N9 poses a greater danger of a than more than 50 percent death rate, then I would say that we all need to be interested in the progress of this bird flu and the progress of a vaccine.
I have very clear memories of the concern and danger of that first bird flu, H5N1. People were scared to death of the potential of the flu’s infection. I had students coming to class with face masks on, family members avoiding get-togethers under the excuse of protecting themselves, and even watched as news stations and news sites reported on the continued danger and concern. If this new bird flu is even more dangerous, I wonder how the world will react to it.
As I have written before (click here and here to read those), a flu vaccine is one of the best ways to prevent and combat a flu virus. Talking to our health professionals is also important. Stay tuned to redOrbit for more information on the progress of this H7N9 flu, the vaccine, and more.
Image Credit: Photos.com