New bird flu strain 'one of most lethal' influenza viruses
#1
Here it comes! We were warned about this virus a year ago, but it was only an 'avian' disease and rarely passed to humans, so it sort of 'faded' out...but now!


:comp:


http://vitals.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/...za-viruses

New bird flu strain 'one of most lethal' influenza viruses


A new strain of bird flu identified in China "is one of the most lethal influenza viruses we have seen so far," Dr. Keiji Fukuda, the World Health Organization (WHO)'s Assistant Director-General for Health Security, tells journalists at a press conference in Beijing on Wednesday.
By Ian Williams, correspondent, NBC News

BEIJING – A new type of bird flu that has killed 22 people in China since March is one of the most deadly strains of influenza known, international health experts said on Wednesday.

"This is one of the most lethal influenza viruses we have seen so far," said Dr. Keiji Fukuda, the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Assistant Director-General for Health Security. "We are at the beginning of our understanding of this virus."

The H7N9 strain appears to spread more easily to humans than SARS, a different virus that started killing people in Asia a decade ago, experts said. Severe acute respiratory syndrome killed around 800 people globally in 2003 before it was stopped.

"This is an unusually dangerous virus for humans," added Fukuda, who was speaking in Beijing alongside leading flu experts from around the world. 

The delegation from United States, Europe, Hong Kong and Australia, as well as China, have just concluded a week-long investigation that took them to affected areas in Shanghai and Beijing.

Little is known
The group of experts made an impressive display of international cooperation, but at the same time admitted just how little is known about the virus that has infected 108 people since March.

"We are at the very early stages of this investigation," said Dr. Nancy Cox, who heads Influenza Division at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. "There's a lot to be learned.”

A four-year-old boy living in a village near Beijing has been confirmed as one the carriers of a deadly strain of bird flu virus. Until the weekend, the outbreak had appeared to be confined to Shanghai and other eastern areas but now it's spread to central and northern China. NBC's Ian Williams reports from Beijing.

Most of the cases so far have been found in eastern China, around the Yangtze River delta, but in recent days there have been cases in central and northern China, including the capital. Most have been what Fukuda called "sporadic cases." 

He said a few family clusters have been found, which could be the result of exposure to the same source of virus, or limited person-to-person transmission.

But he said: "'Evidence so far is not sufficient to conclude there is person-to-person transmission. Moreover, no sustained person-to-person transmission has been found.”

The experts concluded that live poultry markets were the most likely source of infection.

The experts praised the swift action of Chinese authorities in closing live poultry markets, and said it was "encouraging" that there have been no new cases in Shanghai since its markets were shuttered.

And they called for continued international cooperation against a virus that doesn't recognize borders.

"The risks of an outbreak situation are shared in a globalized world, where we are all interconnected," said Fukuda.

Legacy of distrust
All of those who spoke today went out of their way to praise the response and of the Chinese authorities and their openness and transparency. There is enormous sensitivity to any suggestion that their presence in China implies any criticism of local efforts.

China still lives in the shadow of the SARS pandemic, which began here a decade ago and killed hundreds worldwide, including in the U.S. It was made worse by an initial cover-up by the Chinese authorities.

Dr. Jeffrey Shaman, Columbia University, tells NBC's Robert Bazell why flu comes in the winter and if the weather has anything to do with it.   

"The response reflects earlier and strong investments in health and preparedness made by China," said Fukuda.

SARS also left a legacy of distrust, which was on display earlier in the week in Shanghai, when a press conference by the local government and WHO was gatecrashed by the daughter of a couple infected with H7N9. The 26-year-old demanded information about her quarantined father; her mother had died.

"The hospitals and medical staff appear friendly to members of the media like you but have responded in a lukewarm manner to inquiries from family members like me," she told the South China Morning Post. She was taken away by officials.

The experts said that in the absence of so much basic information about the extent of the public health risk it was critical to maintain a high level of awareness. They also noted that the weather is warming up in China, which might provide a bit of a respite and buy them some important time, since H7N9 -- in common with other influenza -- spreads less easily in the spring and summer.

Related:

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    Scientists ready to re-start bird flu experiments
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#2
It sounds like they're really pressing for people to get flu shots.  Kind of makes you wonder what they're putting in those shots!
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#3
(04-24-2013, 03:01 PM)The Curt Jester Wrote: It sounds like they're really pressing for people to get flu shots.  Kind of makes you wonder what they're putting in those shots!

I for one, already know and that is why I NEVER get one. In the past, when my work required it, I'd always get the flu afterwards. I know that you run the risk of getting the flu from the shot, but I always got symptoms and now, I very rarely get the flu...without the shots and added risks.
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#4
(04-24-2013, 04:07 PM)Zedta Wrote:
(04-24-2013, 03:01 PM)The Curt Jester Wrote: It sounds like they're really pressing for people to get flu shots.  Kind of makes you wonder what they're putting in those shots!

I for one, already know and that is why I NEVER get one. In the past, when my work required it, I'd always get the flu afterwards. I know that you run the risk of getting the flu from the shot, but I always got symptoms and now, I very rarely get the flu...without the shots and added risks.

I've never gotten i because I don't trust the government.  I've never specifically looked into the flu vaccination, but I know what they do with so many others that I'm pretty positive this one isn't any better.
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#5
I've never gotten a flu shot.  I've known too many people who did and almost immediately got the flu.  Obviously, that doesn't happen to everyone but I have enough anecdotal evidence to make me wary.  One guy got the shot then went to his doctor who assured him he didn't have the flu, just flu-like symptoms.  Had my doctor told me that, my response would have been, "Quack, quack" I'm afraid which would have ended badly.  I've found to my sorrow that doctors generally have a very poor sense of humor.
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#6
Well, this was just up at Drudge. Looks like the virus has jumped off to Taiwan. Its only a matter of time before it is not endemic to China. It will only be a while before this very virulent virus is pandemic.

:comp:



http://www.cnbc.com/id/100671550

Bird Flu Spreads to Taiwan, Setting Off Alarms
 
Published: Thursday, 25 Apr 2013 | 9:41 AM ET
By: Bree Feng and Denise Grady

The new strain of avian influenza that has infected more than 100 people in China in the last two months has, for the first time, been reported outside mainland China.

Officials in Taiwan reported one case in a 53-year-old Taiwanese citizen who traveled regularly to the Chinese city of Suzhou for work, where he probably contracted the virus. He fell ill on April 12, three days after returning to Taiwan. Tests revealed on Wednesday that he was infected with the H7N9 bird flu virus. As of Tuesday, Chinese officials had reported 108 cases and 22 deaths from the new flu.

(Read More: Big Pharma Exit: Who's Fighting Superbugs?)

The case has set off alarms in Taiwan, where the Central Epidemic Command Center says that it has ''continued to strengthen surveillance and fever screening of travelers arriving from China.''

The patient in Taiwan, described as severely ill, is being treated in a special isolation room, and 139 people who had contact with him—including 110 health workers—are being watched for symptoms. So far, there is no evidence that any have contracted the disease, which has not been found to spread from person to person.

Officials elsewhere in the region are increasingly jittery about the spread of the virus from China. On Wednesday, Japan said it was racing to make changes that would essentially allow local governments to consign bird flu patients or suspected patients to hospitals, and order them to stay away from their workplaces.

The Japanese government took similar precautions during epidemics of the H5N1 and severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, viruses in the last decade.

Hong Kong, scarred by an outbreak of SARS in 2003 that started with an infected visitor from mainland China and that killed 299 Hong Kong residents, has also been making preparations. Concerns have focused on the annual influx of vacationers from all over mainland China next week during the annual May Day holiday. But with nearly three dozen flights arriving on a typical day from Shanghai during the rest of the year, the possibility of the disease spreading has been a worry for health policy makers.

The Hong Kong government has put on standby several hundred hospital beds specially designed after SARS for the isolation and treatment of highly infectious respiratory diseases. A system of infrared scanners operating at the territory's borders ever since the SARS outbreak checks arrivals for fever, and nurses take aside anyone who seems sick for further questioning and sometimes testing.

In a news conference Wednesday in Beijing, a World Health Organization official described this type of bird flu as ''unusually dangerous.''

The virus is ''definitely one of the most lethal influenza viruses we've seen,'' said Dr. Keiji Fukuda, an assistant director general at the World Health Organization.

''The potential development of human-to-human spread cannot be ruled out,'' the health organization said in a statement.

In the United States, scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have received samples of the virus from China and have shared them with five other laboratories to study the virus and work on a vaccine.

Health officials in the U.S. have not advised against travel to China.

(Read more: Supberbugs Creep Into Food)

Scientists think people catch the virus from poultry, not from other humans. But if it could spread among people, a deadly pandemic could result. Researchers say it is worrisome that the new virus may be better than other types of bird flu at jumping from birds to humans.

The H5N1 bird flu virus, which emerged about a decade ago, has killed 371 people, nearly 60 percent of the 622 known to be infected since 2003, according to the World Health Organization. Because of its apparently high death rate, that virus touched off global fears of a lethal pandemic and led to the slaughter of millions of birds. But it could not be stamped out.

The patient in Taiwan said he had not been exposed to birds or eaten under cooked poultry or eggs. Cases like his have puzzled scientists and led some to suspect that an animal other than birds is harboring the virus and spreading it to humans. But so far no other animals have been found to be infected.

—Bree Feng reported from Beijing, and Denise Grady from New York. Hiroko Tabuchi contributed reporting from Tokyo, and Keith Bradsher from Hong Kong.
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