H7N9 FLU UPDATE: JUNE 28, 2013
Disturbing news emanated from eastern China June 26, when the Shanghai Provincial Branch of the National Health and Family Planning Commission announced the death of a 56-year-old man infected with the novel H7N9 Avian Flu virus.
It marked the 40th fatality linked to H7N9 since late March. Worse yet, the death could be an indicator that H7N9 can be transmitted through human-to-human contact.
Since the H7N9 virus surfaced in China, researchers have been working to determine whether the virus can be spread through person-to-person contact. Through early June, virus transmission had been linked solely to live poultry markets. In late May, the Chinese indicated there was no evidence of human-to-human spread; a critical factor in assessing whether H7N9 could eventually trigger a global pandemic.
The June 26 fatality was significant because the victim’s wife died due to complications from H7N9 exposure in late April. The deceased Shanghai couple is believed to be an early confirmation that H7N9 can be spread person-to-person, at least through prolonged, close contact.
Chinese health officials are expected to update H7N9 case totals and release a more definitive statement regarding the current outbreak sometime in July. 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 and at least 38 fatalities has claimed another life. 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.
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.