H7N9 Flu and Mers-CoV Update: August 7, 2013

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Author: Emergency Preparedness Staff/Wednesday, August 7, 2013/Categories: Home Page, NEWS

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H7N9 Flu Update: Disturbing news emanated from eastern China August 6 with the online publication of a study indicating the first instance of a probable person-to-person transmission of the novel H7N9 bird flu virus. The study concerned the 32 year-old healthy daughter of a 60 year old who had fallen ill after frequent visits to an animal market with live birds and died a few weeks after being admitted to the hospital. The daughter tended to her father in the hospital without wearing any protection, became ill six days after her last contact with her father, and died of organ failure a few weeks after being admitted to intensive care in late March. The researchers concluded that the virus passed from father to daughter because genetic tests on the strains of H7N9 they were infected with showed they were almost the same.

The novel (H7N9) virus has sickened people in Eastern China. Up to the end of June 2013 reports indicate 133 have so far been infected, resulting in 43 deaths.

Since the H7N9 virus surfaced in China, researchers have been working to determine whether the virus can be spread through person-to-person contact. Now this appears to be the case. Even though “ the infection was "limited and non-sustainable as there is no outbreak following the two cases." The researchers concluded that “our findings reinforce that the novel virus possesses the potential for pandemic spread."

Chinese health officials are expected to update H7N9 case totals and release a more definitive statement regarding the current outbreak late this summer. Available information to date indicates H7N9 carries a fatality rate of more than 30 percent. In comparison, the H1N1 pandemic of 2009-2010 resulted in a fatality rate of just less than 2 percent.

MERS UPDATE. Saudi health officials announced that the acute respiratory virus responsible for dozens of illnesses has sickened three more individuals two of whom were health workers who had been in contact with patients suffering from (MERS). The death of a Saudi man was announced June 24.

Dubbed Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), the virus causes lung infections that trigger fever and other serious respiratory problems. Rapid kidney failure is also possible. MERS, which has been linked to illnesses in at least nine countries, is a member of the same virus family that produced a respiratory syndrome that killed more than 800 people worldwide in 2003. Globally to date, there have been a total of 94 laboratory-confirmed cases including 46 deaths, according to latest WHO figures. The vast majority of cases have been in Saudi Arabia. 
 
More information about H7N9 Influenza, and other infections capable of generating a pandemic emergency, will be available on this site. Please visit us periodically for updates.

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