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An avian influenza virus that emerged in 2013 is suddenly spreading widely in China, causing a sharp spike in human infections and deaths. Last month alone it sickened 192 people, killing 79, according to an announcement this week by China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission in Beijing.
The surge in human cases is cause for alarm, says Guan Yi, an expert in emerging viral diseases at the University of Hong Kong in China. “We are facing the largest pandemic threat in the last 100 years,” he says.
As of 16 January, the cumulative toll from H7N9 was 918 laboratory-confirmed human infections and 359 deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Despite its high mortality rate, H7N9 had gotten less attention of late than two other new strains—H5N8 and H5N6—that have spread swiftly, killing or forcing authorities to cull millions of poultry. But so far, H5N8 has apparently not infected people; H5N6 has caused 14 human infections and six deaths.
All human H7N9 cases have been traced to exposure to the virus in mainland China, primarily at live poultry markets. The strain likely resulted from a reshuffling of several avian influenza viruses circulating in domestic ducks and chickens, Guan’s group reported in 2013. Studies in ferrets and pigs have shown that H7N9 more easily infects mammals than H5N1, a strain that sparked pandemic fears a decade ago. There have been several clusters of H7N9 cases in which human-to-human transmission “cannot be ruled out,” but there is “no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission,” according to an analysis of recent developments that WHO posted online last week. WHO’s analyses of viral samples so far “do not show evidence of any changes in known genetic markers of virulence or mammalian adaptation,” WHO’s China Representative Office in Beijing wrote in an email to Science.
Still, there are worrisome riddles. One is that H7N9 causes severe disease in people but only mild or even no symptoms in poultry. The only previous example of that pattern, Guan says, is the H1N1 strain responsible for the 1918 flu pandemic, which killed 50 million to 100 million people.
A menace again
After two quiet years, human cases of the H7N9 bird flu virus in mainland China spiked sharply at the end of last year, provoking renewed fears of an influenza pandemic.
Because poultry infected with H7N9 show few symptoms, the virus has spread stealthily, coming to the attention of authorities only after human victims appeared. Determining where the virus is circulating requires testing chickens and collecting environmental samples from live poultry markets.
Human infections have followed a consistent pattern, dropping to zero during summer, picking up in the fall, and peaking in January. During the fifth wave of H7N9 that began last fall, authorities noticed an early and sudden uptick in cases, with 114 human infections from September to December 2016, compared with 16 cases during the same months in 2015 and 31 in 2014, according to a surveillance report. The report notes that the virus has spread geographically, with 23 counties in seven eastern Chinese provinces reporting their first human cases last fall.
“It is too late to contain the virus in poultry,” Guan says. He predicts that the virus will continue to spread in China’s farms, possibly evolving into a strain that would be pathogenic for poultry. Authorities have culled more than 175,000 birds this winter to stamp out local outbreaks of H7N9 and other avian flu strains. Further spread of H7N9 “will naturally increase human infection cases,” Guan says.
H7N9 may also spread beyond China’s borders, either through the poultry trade or through migratory birds. The virus has not been reported in poultry outside China. However, warns WHO’s Beijing office, “continued vigilance is needed.”
Courtesy of sciencemag.org
Three persons tested positive for swine flu in the city on Saturday, taking the total count to six since August 27. Three others are suspected to be infected by the H1N1 virus. Their blood samples have been sent for testing. The cases have started trickling again as the minimum temperature of the city dipped below 25 degree Celsius.
A 40-year-old woman from Manjalpur and another woman (43) from Warasiya tested positive on Saturday morning along with a 41-year-old man from Tandalja. Of the three suspected cases, one sample was collected from the city and two others were collected from Padra and Dahod.
According to doctors, the rise in cases is not surprising. The virus had been declared a local seasonal infection and will affect people like any other flu, throughout the year.
“The virus becomes inactive only when the minimum temperature of the city rises to a daily average of about 28 degree Celsius. This is why there were no cases when the summer was in full blow. The dip in the night temperatures in August led to the increase in cases,” said district health officer M T Chari, adding that it is difficult to ascertain the behaviour of the virus.
The viral infection had earlier killed a woman, whose was the first case to surface since the three-and-half-month wave that ended in April in this year. On August 27, the four-month-pregnant women (36) died due to swine flu after being admitted to SSG Hospital. Her father, brother and husband were also tested positive for symptomatic swine flu and were treated. Another 17-year-old patient from Akshar Chowk was tested positive for the viral infection earlier this month.
According to doctors, receiving swine flu cases throughout the year is no surprise. “Swine flu cases will trickle in throughout the year, except the extreme summers. Every patient of flu has to be extra cautious. High-grade fever, sore throat and breathlessness should be reported,” Chari added.
The increase in cases between January and April this year was the highest during a wave since the pandemic of 2009-2010. The city had registered 615 cases of swine flu of whom 78 had died in the city.
The increase in cases between January and April this year was the highest during a wave since the pandemic of 2009-2010. The city had registered 615 cases of swine flu of which 78 had died in the city.
Courtesy of timesofindia.indiatimes.com
The death of thousands of poultry birds in some districts have put the administration on high alert in Uttar Pradesh, a state still reeling under the deadly H1N1 virus.
An advisory was issued to the district heads last week to take necessary measures to prevent any instance of bird flu. However, no case has been reported so far.
The deaths were reported earlier this month from the Saari Ka Purwa village of Shukulbazar block in Amethi district. “No human cases have been reported so far and the district administration, led by the chief veterinary officer, has conducted tests . We are taking all necessary precautions,” Amethi’s chief medical officer Ashok Kumar told MAIL TODAY.
Fresh poultry bird deaths were also reported from Agra, where over 4,000 hens have reportedly died in the past few days. Tests are yet to confirm any instance of bird flu at the farms in Basauri village of Agra, where the dead birds are still to be properly disposed of.
“The growers are not burying the birds properly, which enables stray dogs to dig them out and leave the rotten bodies around. We demand the administration to take affective steps,” Siddharth Kumar, a student living in the village, said.
“We have come to know about the outbreak and a team of experts will be sent to the village on Monday,” Agra’s deputy veterinary officer Dr Vikas Sathe said.
Courtesy of intoday.in
Two Syrians died of H1N1 swine flu last month and six others were suspected of carrying the infection, Syria’s state news agency SANA said on Monday.
The World Health Organization has warned that the collapse of Syria’s health system during its four-year civil war has led to the spread of disease. Typhoid, hepatitis and the polio virus have taken hold in the country.
SANA said the two men were from the southern province of Sweida, where government forces and rebels have clashed. Their deaths were reported by the head of Communicable and Chronic Diseases Department in Sweida, it said.
In 2009-10, swine flu spread from central Mexico around the world. Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that it killed 284,000 people in 12 months.
More than 220,000 people have been killed in Syria’s conflict, which began in March 2011 with popular protests against President Bashar al-Assad and spiraled into civil war after a crackdown by his security forces.
Courtesy of english.alarabiya
Five people have died in Jordan since the beginning of the year from swine flu, the health ministry said Sunday, adding that it has recorded 130 cases of the virus.
“The health ministry has this year registered five deaths from the H1N1 virus and 30 cases,” a senior ministry official told a news conference.
Daifallah Lozi said the deaths included elderly people, children under five and those with chronic ailments.
He urged Jordanians to seek vaccination against the H1N1 strain of flu, which has now killed 30 people in the country since 2009.
The World Health Organisation declared the swine flu pandemic over in August 2010, more than a year after the H1N1 virus that emerged from Mexico sparked panic and killed thousands of people worldwide.
Courtesy of medicalxpress.com
Fourteen fresh cases of swine flu have been reported in Telangana where 77 people have succumbed to the H1N1 virus since the beginning of the year.
“Since the first of January till the 2nd of April, 7423 samples were tested out of which 2289 were found to be positive for the virus. The number of deaths because of swine flu and related complications currently stands at 77,” a state government release said on Saturday.
Fourteen out of the 49 samples sent for analysis on Friday were found positive for the virus.
Courtesy of ndtv.com
A total of 30 fatalities have been reported that are possibly connected with the flu, mostly among the elderly, and these cases were instances of conjoined diseases, and none of the patients had received vaccines, Ilic told the session of the Serbian parliament Healthcare Committee.
Ilic noted that since the beginning of the season, a total of 129,638 patients have been diagnosed with influenza and a considerable drop of the new flu cases was recorded in the last week compared to the previous weeks.
A total of 304 cases of flu have been registered and confirmed through laboratory testing, and the most frequent virus is A (H1) with around 49 percent of disease cases, followed by A (H3) with 36 percent of cases, Ilic said and added that as the infection is subsiding, the structure of the virus is changing.
We now have an increase in the number of patients infected with A (H3), while A (H1) virus was dominant at the beginning of the breakout, Ilic said.
Courtesy of inserbia.info
Swine flu deaths continued unabated across the country as 12 more persons perished to the H1N1 virus taking the toll to 2,023, while the number of those affected stood at 33,625.
According to data collated by the Health Ministry, 2,023 people have died this year due to the disease till yesterday.
In Coimbatore city of Tamil Nadu, a woman, who had delivered a baby two days ago at a government hospital, has tested positive for H1N1 virus. Sixteen persons have died due to the disease in the southern state so far.
According to Union Health Ministry figures, the death toll stood at 426 in worst-hit Gujarat, while the number of affected people in the state was 6,484 since January.
As many as 413 people have died in Rajasthan, while the toll in Maharashtra stood at 390 with 4,434 people affected.
A total of 298 swine flu deaths have been registered in Madhya Pradesh, where 2,180 people have been affected.
The death toll in Karnataka was recorded to be 82, while the number of those affected in the state was 2,733.
The number of patients succumbing to H1N1 virus in Telangana, Punjab and Haryana was 75, 53 and 51, respectively.
While 18 persons have died of the disease in Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand has registered 12 casualties.
The toll in West Bengal has risen to 24, while one more swine flu death in Uttar Pradesh has taken the toll to 38 in the state.
In Delhi, 12 persons have died of the disease while the number of affected people is 4,218. The death toll in Kerala has risen to 13.
Andhra Pradesh has seen 22 swine flu deaths while an equal number of people have died in Chhattisgarh. Twenty people have succumbed to the disease in Himachal Pradesh.
Courtesy of The Tribune