Thursday, April 25, 2013

H7N9 Is an 'unusually dangerous virus,' international group of experts concludes

Mara Hvistendahl and Dennis Normile, with reporting by Yang Jianxiang in Science Insider:  An international team of experts concluded an investigative mission to China today with both sobering and encouraging findings about H7N9, a novel avian influenza virus recently found for the first time in humans.

"This is an unusually dangerous virus for humans," said Keiji Fukuda, assistant director-general for health security of the World Health Organization (WHO), at a press conference in Beijing this morning. From what is known so far, he added, H7N9 "is more easily transmissible from poultry to humans than H5N1," the avian influenza virus that has circulated in poultry in Asia for more than a decade, occasionally causing human fatalities.

The team also reported that the available evidence points to live bird markets as being the most likely pathway for the virus from poultry to humans. Positive samples have been retrieved from poultry and from contaminated surfaces at the markets. Nancy Cox, a flu expert at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, cautioned that while it is still early, "we can now understand that the likely source of infection is poultry—that the virus originates from poultry."

Shanghai closed its live poultry markets on 6 April, shortly after the market link was suspected. "Almost immediately there was a decline in the number of new cases," said Anne Kelso, director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza in Melbourne, Australia. "This is a very encouraging outcome so far," she added, calling the decision to close markets "very quick and appropriate."...

Various views of H5N1, a previous bird flu, from the Centers for Disease Control

No comments: