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More Information Needed About New Strain Of Bird Flu In China

In a Foreign Policy opinion piece, Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, recounts recent events in China, including the discovery of hundreds of dead pigs, ducks, and geese in rivers and the diagnosis of several human cases of a new strain of avian influenza, H7N9, and she writes, “[T]his could be how pandemics begin.” She continues, “While environmental clean-up and agricultural authorities scrambled to remove the unsightly corpses and provide the anxious public with less-than-believable explanations for their demise, a seemingly separate human drama was unfolding,” with the cases of three people infected with H7N9, two of whom have died. She notes, “To date, no connection between the three individuals has been found.”

“If the pigs, people, and birds have died in China from H7N9, it is imperative and urgent that the biological connection be made, and extensive research be done to determine how widespread human infection may be,” Garrett writes. “The mystery is deep, the clock is ticking, and the world wants answers,” she states, adding, “If we were imagining how a terrible pandemic would unfold, this could certainly serve as an excellent script.” Garrett also provides a timeline of the events linked to news articles (4/1).

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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.