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More human cases of avian influenza A H7N9 virus infection have been reported in China in the past year than with H5N1 viruses since their emergence in 1997. Both reopening of live poultry markets and seasonality might have contributed to an apparent re-emergence of H7N9 human infections in the past month. Whether cases of avian influenza A H10N8 virus infection are going to increase is unknown, because how widely these viruses are circulating in poultry is unknown. More surveillance will be needed to establish the origin of H10N8 and to monitor potential future transmission events. Additionally, other new avian influenza virus subtypes, reassorting with H9N2 viruses, might emerge in the near future and cause human infections.
Six of the latest cases are from Guangdong province, continuing a strong second-wave tilt toward the mainland's southernmost areas. In the first wave, locations north of that area were driving most of the outbreak activity: Shanghai, Jiangsu province, and Zhejiang province. China's steady stream of H7N9 cases has averaged about 5 to 7 a day over the past few weeks, and the latest reports puts the total close to the 300 case mark since the disease was first detected in people last spring. For comparison, it took H5N1 avian flu — another closely watched virus that can pass from poultry to people — 4 years for the global total to reach 263 cases. China passed that mark for H7N9 last week after less than a year of outbreak activity.