Is Bird Flu Back?

Bird flu cases reported in China are a new H7N9 strain

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) The world may have thought that outbreaks of bird flu were behind it, but new cases are landing the flu back in the headlines and landing a few Chinese patients into hospitals.

The Chinese government reported four new cases of a novel bird flu strain. This news brings the total count to seven cases, according to a release on China.org.cn, a website provided by the Chinese government.

The new cases have been found in the coastal Jiangsu Province in the east of China. Two deaths and one infection were reported over the weekend in the city of Shanghai, just to the south of Jiangsu Province.

The New York Times reported that all four of the new patients had been hospitalized and were in critical condition.

"Wash your hands often."

This strain of avian influenza, H7N9, is different from the H5N1 strain that caused deaths in 2003 and 2004. According to The New York Times, there is not yet a vaccine for the new H7N9 strain.

According to China.org.cn, 167 people who had been in contact with the four new patients showed no signs of being infected, and the same was true of 88 people who had been in contact with patients in Shanghai.

Based on this, China.org.cn reported that there are currently no signs that the H7N9 virus is highly contagious between humans. However, these are the first known human cases of the flu and there is much more to be learned about the strains.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in the case of the H5N1 strain, most cases involved contact with live or dead poultry that had been infected. The details of the new H7N9 infections are yet to be understood, but The New York Times reported one of the new patients is a poultry butcher.

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Review Date: 
April 3, 2013
Last Updated:
April 4, 2013