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Health Experts In China Working To Identify Source, Transmission Routes Of H7N9 Flu Virus

“Fifteen global and Chinese health experts are on a mission in Beijing and Shanghai to learn more about the H7N9 bird flu virus that has killed 17 people and sickened 70 others, said Dr. Michael O’Leary, head of WHO’s office in China,” the Associated Press reports (Wong, 4/19). “The first human case was identified three weeks ago, and the rapid compilation of human cases since then has public health officials in China and scientists from around the world scrambling to identify the source of the infection and prevent further spread,” the San Francisco Chronicle notes (Allday, 4/18). “As the number of cases of [the] deadly strain of bird flu rises in China, health officials there are investigating the possibility that the disease has spread from human to human,” the Globe and Mail writes (Andreatta, 4/18).

“China is investigating four possible cases of human-to-human transmission of [H7N9], but so far there has been ‘no sustained’ evidence of transmission between people, the [WHO] said Thursday,” according to the New York Times (Perlez, 4/18). “Chinese authorities are attempting to identify the bird reservoir that is the source of the disease so they can reduce human exposure to it,” The Lancet adds (Alcorn, 4/20). “The government is urging people to move quickly to head off the spread of the disease, most importantly closing down chicken markets,” the Washington Post notes (Mufson, 4/17). However, “[m]ore than 50 percent of patients infected with [H7N9] had no contact with poultry, the World Health Organization said on Friday, further raising questions about whether the virus was transmitted between humans,” Reuters reports (Rajagopalan/Kelland, 4/19).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.