H7N9 declared ‘one of the most lethal’ flu viruses ever: spreads beyond China mainland -1st case reported in Taiwan

April 24, 2013 CHINA A new bird flu strain that has killed 22 people in China is “one of the most lethal” of its kind and transmits more easily to humans than another strain that has killed hundreds since 2003, a World Health Organization (WHO) expert said on Wednesday. The H7N9 flu has infected 108 people in China since it was first detected in March, according to the Geneva-based WHO. Although it is not clear exactly how people are being infected, experts say they see no evidence so far of the most worrisome scenario – sustained transmission between people. An international team of scientists led by the WHO and the Chinese government conducted a five-day investigation in China, but said they were no closer to determining whether the virus might become transmissible between people. “The situation remains complex and difficult and evolving,” said Keiji Fukuda, the WHO’s assistant director-general for health security. “When we look at influenza viruses, this is an unusually dangerous virus for humans,” he said at a briefing. Another bird flu strain – H5N1 – has killed 30 of the 45 people it infected in China between 2003 and 2013, and although the H7N9 strain in the current outbreak has a lower fatality rate to date, Fukuda said: “This is definitely one of the most lethal influenza viruses that we’ve seen so far.” Scientists who have analyzed genetic sequence data from samples from three H7N9 victims say the strain is a so-called “triple reassortant” virus with a mixture of genes from three other flu strains found in birds in Asia. Recent pandemic viruses, including the H1N1 “swine flu” of 2009/2010, have been mixtures of mammal and bird flu – hybrids that are more likely to be milder because mammalian flu tends to make people less severely ill than bird flu. Pure bird flu strains, such as the new H7N9 strain and the H5N1 flu, which has killed about 371 of 622 the people it has infected since 2003, are generally more deadly for people. The team of experts, who began their investigation in China last week, said one problem in tracking H7N9 is the absence of visible illness in poultry. Fukuda stressed that the team is still at the beginning of its investigation, and said that “we may just be seeing the most serious infections” at this point. Based on the evidence, “this virus is more easily transmissible from poultry to humans than H5N1,” he said. Besides the initial cases of H7N9 in and around Shanghai, others have been detected in Beijing and five provinces. On Wednesday, Taiwan’s Health Department said a businessman had contracted H7N9 while travelling in China and was in a serious condition in hospital. Samples from chickens, ducks and pigeons from poultry markets have tested positive for H7N9, but those from migratory birds have not, suggesting that “the likely source of infection is poultry,” said Nancy Cox, director of the influenza division at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. John Oxford, a flu virologist at Queen Mary University of London, said the emergence of human H7N9 infections – a completely new strain in people – was “very, very unsettling. This virus seems to have been quietly spreading in chickens without anyone knowing about it,” he told Reuters in London. Flu experts say it is likely that more cases of human infection with H7N9 flu will emerge in the coming weeks and months, at least until the source of infection has been completely confirmed and effectively controlled. Anne Kelso, the Melbourne-based director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza said there has been a “dramatic slowdown of cases” in the commercial capital of Shanghai, which has recorded most of the deaths, something she described as “encouraging.” –Yahoo News
H7N9 case hits Taiwan: Taiwan on Wednesday reported the first case of the H7N9 bird flu outside of mainland China. The 53-year-old man, who had been working in the eastern Chinese city of Suzhou, showed symptoms three days after returning to Taiwan via Shanghai, the Centers for Disease Control said, adding that he had been hospitalised since April 16 and was in a critical condition.  –France24
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7 Responses to H7N9 declared ‘one of the most lethal’ flu viruses ever: spreads beyond China mainland -1st case reported in Taiwan

  1. John says:

    If this bird flu ever takes off like the world wide Spanish flu of 1918 then China would appear to have the most casualties. Of course the rest of the world would suffer greatly also.

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  2. niebo says:

    “Scientists who have analyzed genetic sequence data from samples from THREE H7N9 victims say the strain is a so-called “triple reassortant” virus with a mixture of genes from three other flu strains found in birds in Asia.”

    HOWEVER, in the recent study, there are FOUR human isolates; true, all of them are “triple reassortants” (part H7N3, part H11N9, part H9N2) BUT all FOUR samples include a mutation that is associated with H5N1 (Lysine @ position 627, which makes it adaptable to humans and is a change NOT found in the avian/environmental samples) and ONE sample (from the 38 year old man in Hangzhou; perhaps the one which this statement excludes) contains a mutation associated with seasonal flu H3N2 (Hong Kong flu), which is quite contagious amongst humans. Plus, when the resistance factors (Shanghai1 is resistant to both current regiments of treatment while the rest tested for resistance against one of them [ion channel inhibitors; amantadine and rimantadine]) are included in the discussion, the “triple reassortant” claim is revealed to be an over-simplification. Sort of like “Vaccines are perfectly safe” and “GMO crops are ‘essentially identical’ to standard crops (so we just need patents, not reviews)” and “Fluoride is good for you” . . . .

    http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=20453

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  3. George says:

    The recent movie Contagion gives a good and scarey view of what the world could be up against. Time for some praying. Another seal may have opened.

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  4. Tom says:

    A spanish flu type infection would hit harder today as we travel across the globe on a grander scale today than 1918
    Viruses is a natural part of life though and without them we wouldnt be here

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  5. Ariel says:

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    I mean H7N9 declared ‘one of the most lethal’ flu
    viruses ever: spreads beyond China mainland -1st case reported in Taiwan |
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    • Louie says:

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    • Irene C says:

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