Health Officials Have Reason To ‘Remain Hypervigilant’ Over H7N9

“Just as the world was breathing easier about a deadly bird flu virus that killed 371 people over the past decade before dropping out of sight, a different form of bird flu has emerged in China that is causing concern among health experts,” a New York Times editorial writes. “So far there is no evidence that the virus has spread beyond China. Nor is there evidence that it is capable of spreading from human to human,” the editorial notes. “Even so, health experts consider the new outbreak potentially worrisome,” the article continues, adding, “The disease can cause great harm. Three of the earliest victims suffered severe pneumonia, respiratory failure, septic shock, brain damage, kidney failure and other major complications.”

“Nobody knows how many less severe cases may have occurred, but there are some,” the New York Times writes, adding, “A young boy displaying no symptoms was recently found infected. Such hard-to-notice cases could make it difficult to trace the spread of the virus.” The editorial notes “China has been much more open in sharing data on the outbreak than it was a decade ago when it suppressed information on an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, enabling it to spread to other countries and kill almost 800 people.” The newspaper concludes, “There is plenty of reason for health authorities to remain hypervigilant but no reason for anyone other than travelers to China to take precautions” (4/16).