There is no concrete evidence that a deadly bird flu, being given the name H7N9 has managed to spread from humans to birds in China. However, health authorities are being warned that the virus could possibly mutate, making transmissions to humans a plausible threat in the near future.
The head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Mr. Anthony Fauci has reached out to officials in China, studying alongside them. There have been more than one thousand close contacts that confirm the virusâ€™s presence. However, at the present time, none of the afflicted individuals contracted the virus from human-to-human contact.
Fauci believes that with the evidence collected, that due to the influx of people who presently have the disease in China that this disease may not travel from person to person, like other viruses before it has. However, even though there are no signs of human transmission of the virus, Fauci cautions authorities that they need to be prepared for the virus to mutate. If the virus does mutate, this could cause it to begin spreading amongst humans.
Fauci believes that the present virus is like other influenza strains. He is concerned that because of the type of virus it is, that anything could happen at this point. The fact that no human transmissions have occurred is encouraging news, but this does not mean that human transmissions will not be possible in the future.
Researchers have already begun developing tests that will help them identify the H7N9 strain. They are diligently working on a vaccine for the virus, with clinical trials for the vaccine scheduled to begin in the summer, possibly July or August. Fauci is hoping that even though work is being done to develop a vaccine for the virus that the vaccine will not have to be used to eradicate the new influenza.
Roughly one hundred ten people located along the mainland coast of China have been infected by the new bird flu. There have been twenty-three deaths due to the mystery virus, since the virus was discovered in March. Most of the cases of the virus have been reported in China. However, there has been one reported case in Taiwan.
Chinese authorities have managed to identify what is causing the virus. They believe that poultry is to blame for the new strain. They have confirmed that the people who have been infected with the virus, became sick after they made contact with infected fowl.
H7N9 Virus vs. H5N1 Virus
Fauci has compared the H7N9 virus to the H5N1 virus that occurred in the region, from birds, several years prior. He states that the similarities between the two viruses are striking. The virus is spread from either a chicken or other type of bird, to humans. When humans become infected by the virus, the effects are severe.
There are some differences that exist between the two types of viruses. The H5N1 virus would kill chickens at a rapid pace. However, the H7N9 virus is not doing the same. This is making it difficult to pinpoint if the chickens are infected or not.