There is a new disease in town – at least there is if you live in eastern China. Long after most people had lost interest in – and the media had stopped writing about – H5N1 bird flu, we now have to get used to another assortment of letters and numbers. So should we all worry about H7N9?
“Yes and no” seems to sum up the view of experts. Yes, because of the potential of flu viruses to cause global disease outbreaks – pandemics. No, because the virus is still confined to China and has no ability at present to transmit between humans.
The facts of the new virus are simply put. In the space of one month more than 100 people have been infected in China. One in five has died and many more are seriously ill in hospital. It causes pneumonia and can lead to multi-organ failure.
The virus originated in chickens and those who have fallen ill either attended live poultry markets or had close contact with infected birds.
“I think we’re concerned because we have to prepare. Alarmed? No. The virus in humans is still confined to one region of China. It’s got a high population but it still seems to be solely animal to human infection and it is not spreading between humans,” said Prof John McCauley, director of a World Health Organization (WHO) collaborating centre in the UK.
Read the full story on the BBC website