no cause for panic over the H7N9 influenza strain and says that Americans, “go about their daily lives,” this unusually dangerous virus has concerned officials at the CDC to such an extent that they are rapidly working to develop an effective vaccine in the event it makes its way to North America.
According to the World Health Organization, the H7N9 bird flu virus is one the most lethal influenza strains ever identified. The first case appeared in China in late February and has since spread to scores of others, with at least 109 cases having
been reported to WHO thus far, 22 of which have resulted in death. This
amounts to a kill rate of 20%. These are laboratory confirmations, so
in all likelihood there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of others who
may be infected with the virus that haven’t received medical attention.
In the last 24 hours officials in Taiwan confirmed the first case
of the virus outside of China. The patient was originally hospitalized
on April 12, but confirmation of the virus did not come until nearly two
weeks later, suggesting that the official numbers and the reality on
the ground are starkly different.
Moreover, as reported by WHO, half of the H7N9 cases identified are individuals who have had no prior contact with poultry.
If true, this would be strong evidence that H7N9 has already achieved “human-to-human transmission,” turning it into a “nightmare influenza” that might already be spreading across the population.
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