Bird Flu Out of China

11 04 2013

avian fluThe bird flu that’s been identified in China has an official designation: Avian influenza A (H7N9) virus. It’s a mouthful.

As of 12:00 p.m. today, there have been 38 cases identified in humans, and 11 deaths. When healthcare staff identify the infection, they hospitalize and quarantine the patient, no matter how mild the symptoms.

There are most likely people infected who do not have symptoms, and who have not yet been identified. It’s therefore hard to know the total number of infected.

The virus is showing up in four provinces in China, and positive test results have been found in market birds, including ducks, chickens, pigeons, and quails. The poultry markets have been closed in an attempt to arrest the spread of this disease.

So far, the virus has not been found in wild birds. What this means is that we don’t need to worry about wild birds migrating and bringing the disease with them to other geographic areas around the world.

There’s been no confirmed person-to-person transmission of the virus, although it may be going on in a limited fashion and no one is aware of it.

The Avian influenza A (H7N9) virus seems to impact those over 60 years of age more than the younger groups. About one-third of those infected are adults ages 18 to 59, and there has been at least one pediatric infection.

Diagnostic kits are being sent overseas first, and once the CDC has received FDA approval, those kits will be distributed in the US.

Here’s the website for up-to-date information: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/avianflu/h7n9-virus.htm

Thanks to the CDC for its teleconference this afternoon, during which this information was presented.

By Trish Parnell

Image courtesy of Phil @ Delfryn Design