Is the world ready for the unthinkable? Simultaneous global infections, resulting in pandemics, from two of the deadliest viruses of the 21st century. If both H7N9 and nCov go airborne, they could kill hundreds of millions of people.
May 14, 2013 – CHINA – Three more people have died in China from the new strain of H7N9 bird flu virus, raising the death toll to 35 while the total number of infections rose to 130, state media said today. Without giving details of the deaths, Xinhua news agency said a new case of the H7N9, described by the World Health Organization as one of the most lethal flu viruses around, was found in China’s east Jiangxi province. There has so far been no evidence of human-to-human transmission of the virus, a point reiterated by Xinhua on Monday, citing health authorities. It noted that 57 of those infected have recovered. Chinese scientists say the virus has been transmitted to humans from chickens, though the World Health Organization says 40 percent of people infected with H7N9 had no contact with poultry. Since it was first detected in March, the H7N9 virus has raised alarm and pummeled Chinese demand for poultry as well as prices for livestock. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said the current strain of bird flu cannot start a pandemic but notes there is no guarantee it will not mutate and cause a serious pandemic. – Independent
4 more cases in Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia has confirmed four new cases of the SARS-like novel coronavirus in its Eastern Province, state media reported late on Monday, citing the health ministry. The health ministry said one of the four new cases had been treated and the patient had been released from hospital, while the three other new cases were still being treated, the Saudi Press Agency reported. On Sunday, Saudi Arabia said it had had a total of 24 confirmed cases since the disease was identified last year, of whom 15 had died. In its latest outbreak in its Eastern Province, it said it had had 15 confirmed cases, of whom nine had died. World Health Organization officials visiting Saudi Arabia to consult with the authorities on the outbreak said on Sunday it seemed likely the new virus could be passed between humans, but only after prolonged, close contact. The new virus (nCov) can cause coughing, fever and pneumonia. A virus from the same family triggered the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that swept the world after emerging in Asia and killed 775 people in 2003. French authorities announced on Sunday that a second man had been diagnosed with the disease after sharing a hospital room with France’s only other sufferer, who had recently traveled in the Middle East. –Reuters
N. Korea reports first H5N1 outbreak: Animal health officials in North Korea and Tibet announced H5N1 avian flu outbreaks in poultry, according to reports today from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). North Korea’s outbreak began on Apr 19 at a commercial duck farm near Pyongyang. The virus affected an unspecified number of adults, fattening ducks, and ducklings. Authorities destroyed all 164,000 of the farm’s birds to curb the spread of the virus. The report said the source of the virus is not known, but it could have been transmitted to the ducks through contact with wild species. The event appears to be North Korea’s first H5N1 outbreak reported to the OIE. In Tibet, H5N1 struck geese and chickens in the village of Qionglin, starting on May 13. The virus killed 35 birds, and 372 more were culled to control disease spread. Tibet’s last H5N1 outbreak occurred in October 2012. –CIDRAP