More cases of H7N9 Reported…Pandemic Potential?
With the case count creeping up, three more today alone in China,does H7N9 have pandemic potential? Probably no more than any of the other ‘new’ viruses. One thing is certain though, one of them, sometime soon, will make the final mutation that allows the virus to spread unchecked across the planet.
Avian influenza A(H7N9) is a subtype of influenza viruses that have been detected in birds in the past. This particular A(H7N9) virus had not previously been seen in either animals or people until it was found in March 2013 in China.
However, since then, infections in both humans and birds have been observed. The disease is of concern because most patients have become severely ill. Most of the cases of human infection with this avian H7N9 virus have reported recent exposure to live poultry or potentially contaminated environments, especially markets where live birds have been sold. This virus does not appear to transmit easily from person to person, and sustained human-to-human transmission has not been reported.
The most important word there is sustained.
Human to human transmission has occurred, but it is not sustained, it’s not easy to transmit.
As I have said numerous times before influenza viruses mutate readily and usually human to human transmission becomes more likely with each of these mutations.
We have faced a plethora of new influenza viruses in recent years, and almost all of them are capable of making the bulk of those who get them severely ill.