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#H7N9 on the move! Taiwan gets first case. Says it came from China. 108 cases, 22 deaths. WHO Joint Task Force Press Conference

April 24, 2013
So how did the virus get to China? The big question when you aren't clear on the source.

So how did the virus get to China? This is the big question when you aren’t clear on the source of the infection.

Taiwan First Case

Taiwan health authorities confirmed the island’s first human infection of H7N9 avian flu on Wednesday.

A 53-year-old Taiwanese man was confirmed to be infected with the new type of bird flu virus. The patient is believed to have been infected outside Taiwan as he showed symptoms three days after returning from Suzhou City in Jiangsu Province. The patient, who is Hepatitis-B-positive and suffers from high blood pressure, is in a serious condition. A total of 139 people who have had close contact with him are being monitored

I like this map as it gives just a bit of perspective as to where Taiwan is in relationship to everyone else in the region. Who might be next is what we are all thinking?!?!?

I like this map as it gives just a bit of perspective as to where Taiwan is in relationship to everyone else in the region. Who might be next is what we are all thinking?!?!?

Cases – Deaths

As of 24 April 2013 we have 108 cases and 22 deaths.

Joint Press Conference

Here are a few excerpts from the opening statement by Dr Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Health Security at the joint press conference on the China-WHO Joint Mission on H7N9 Assessment, 24 April 2013:

“First of all, we are impressed with the response by the Government of China. China has responded to this serious outbreak caused by a new influenza virus with strong leadership and a high level of commitment, and sound and effective strategies such as health education, communication and closure of live poultry market.”

“Almost all cases have been sporadic cases, but a few family clusters have been identified. However, we are not sure if the clusters were caused by common exposure to a source of virus or due to limited person to person transmission. Evidence so far is not sufficient to conclude there is person to person transmission. Moreover, no sustained person to person transmission has been found. We want to note that if limited person to person transmission is demonstrated in the future, it will not be surprising. Enhancing surveillance is the way to early detect such occurrence.”

He then made seven recommendations:

  1. Undertake intense and focused investigations to determine the source(s) of human H7N9 infections with a view to taking urgent action to prevent continuing virus spread and its potentially severe consequences for human and animal health.
  2. Maintain a high level of alert, preparedness and response for the H7N9 virus even though human cases might drop in the summer, as occurs with many other avian influenza viruses.
  3. Continue to conduct and strengthen both epidemiological and laboratory-based surveillance in human and animals in all Provinces of China to identify changes that might indicate the virus is spreading geographically and gaining the ability to infect people more easily.
  4. Ensure that there is frequent two-way sharing of information, close and timely communications and, when appropriate, coordinated or joint investigations and research between ministries of health, agriculture and forestry because this threat requires the combined efforts of these sectors.
  5. Continue high level scientific collaborations, communications and sharing of sequence data and viruses with WHO and international partners because the threat of H7N9 is also an international shared risk and concern.
  6. Encourage and foster the scientific and epidemiological studies and research needed to close major gaps in critical knowledge and understanding
  7. Continue preparedness planning and other IHR core capacity strengthening work because such investments make major differences in being ready to address health security risks and emergencies, including H7N9.

#Boston – One Fund Boston set up to assist victims of the Boston Bombing

April 23, 2013


Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino have announced the formation of The One Fund Boston, Inc. to help the people most affected by the tragic events that occurred in Boston on April 15, 2013.

Many of the wounded could face staggering bills not just for the trauma care they received in the days after the bombings, but for prosthetic limbs, lengthy rehabilitation and the equipment they will need to negotiate daily life with crippling injuries. Even those with health insurance may find that their plan places limits on specific services, like physical therapy or psychological counseling.

Kenneth R. Feinberg, the lawyer who has overseen compensation funds for victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the shootings at Virginia Tech and other disasters, arrived in Boston on Monday to start the difficult work of deciding who will be eligible for payouts from a new compensation fund and how much each person wounded in the bombings and family of the dead deserves.

Find out more

To send a check by mail:
One Fund Boston, Inc.
800 Boylston Street #990009
Boston, MA 02199

Send inquiries to:

#H7N9 – 104 cases, 21 deaths. Great Bloomberg graphic. Tough times for bird sellers, great for veggie dealers

April 22, 2013

Great Bloomberg graphic on # of cases and geographical spread

A sample of a map at the Bloomberg site.

A sample of a map at the Bloomberg site.

Click on the link below – great graphic and maps.

Case Count

To date, a total of 104 laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus in China, including 21 deaths have been reported to WHO. Contacts of the confirmed cases are being closely monitored.

Loss of business for some is a gain for others!

A new strain of bird flu that has been occurring across parts of China has made poultry dealers really suffer and veggie sales skyrocket!

#H7N9 – Death rate seems to have settled at 20%. Yikes! 102 cases 20 deaths…still no ID of source

April 22, 2013

Latest Case Count

As of 21 April, there were 102 cases and 20 deaths.  No additional provinces have been added and no clearer picture about the source of infection. What happens next?!?  Who knows! Virus reproduction and replication will continue and if the “right” random event occurs things could really change…otherwise, this could go on for who knows how long or it could fizzle out.


Shane Granger, an interesting blogger, has done the analytics on the H7N9 and has produced a very easy to understand graph of the reported cases and deaths as on 22 April.


Partly cloudy with a high of H7N9

Virologist Vincent Racaniello is such a great guy and has quite the sense of humor about viruses.  😉 His weekly TWIV podcast has a section about H7N9 entitled “Partly cloudy with a high of H7N9”…yes…viruses can be fun!  😉

He and several other virus guys share interesting tidbits about the H7 viruses.  One fact is that the H7 viruses is prone to replicating in the eye so that if someone butchering a chicken or working with birds gets bird material in their eyes they could possibly acquire the virus. The eyes could then transfers the virus into the back of your throat and in some cases infect the brain via the optic nerve.  One of the best places to swab to find the H7 virus is the eye.  He has interesting links and a great podcast at the link below

#H7N9 – A disease of many puzzles – lots of why’s and how’s and not many answers

April 21, 2013

Lots of questions and not many answers seem to be the current theme regarding H7N9. Helen Branswell wrote a great article in the Canadian Press, as has CIDRAP on this very issue.

  • Why men? 57 of 82 patients are men (Those with available gender data). For H5N1, the gender balance has been more even.
  • Why older? Why are most of the patients older, a sharp contrast to the pattern seen with H5N1? The median age is 61.5 years, with a range of 2 to 89 years
  • Why so fast? Why have more than 96 cases popped up in just a few weeks in China versus and just 45 H5N1 cases in the country in about 10 years?
  • Why minimal illness in birds? Why the virus seems to cause little or no sickness in birds but makes humans seriously ill?
  • How does it infect? How exactly is the virus is getting into humans? About 40 percent of the victims had no clear history of exposure to poultry.
  • What is the source? This is perhaps the million-dollar question. The suspected source is poultry, however Chinese authorities reported this week that only 39 of about 48 000 samples from more than 1000 poultry markets, farms, and other sites contained the virus.

The moderator of ProMed begged the question at the end of post # 187…maybe the prefix “Avian” is unjustified?

#H7N9 – Approaching the magical 100 number – 96 cases and 18 deaths

April 20, 2013
The Xinhua News Agency and WHO reported another death and four new infections raising case count to 95 and the death toll to 18, the official said.

The Xinhua News Agency and WHO reported another death and four new infections raising case count to 96 and the death toll to 18.

The H7N9 virus has been found in 96 people, mostly in eastern China. The latest victim is a 69-year old man surnamed Xu from Zhejiang province who passed away Friday night after emergency treatment failed, Xinhua said.

The source of the infection remains a mystery – health officials are raising questions about the source of this strain of bird flu indicating that more than half of patients had no contact with poultry.

A very scary statistic is that Currently, 69 patients are being treated in hospital and 9 patients have been discharged. That is a lot of sick people indicating a very serious illness.

While it is not clear how people are becoming infected, WHO says there is no evidence of the most worrying scenario – sustained transmission between people.

#H7N9 – Anything is possible…words from WHOs top influenza scientist

April 19, 2013

NPR has a great story today on H7N9. Click on the link below to listen to the program.

Before he left Geneva, Dr Ken Fukuda explained the wide-open nature of the investigation in an interview with NPR.

Before he left Geneva, Dr Ken Fukuda explained the wide-open nature of the investigation in an interview with NPR.

Underscoring the urgency that public health agencies feel about the emergence of a new kind of bird flu, the team is headed by Dr. , the World Health Organization’s top influenza scientist.

“The biggest question is just what’s going to happen,” he told Shots. “We’ve had a lot of experience in the last decade with new animal influenza viruses. But … we haven’t seen this combination before. So I think right now, anything is possible.”

“Anything” encompasses a wide range of possibilities.