Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Janet C. Phelan
Activist Post

Amidst allegations by a highly placed Colonel in the Chinese army that the U.S. has released a bioweapon in Mainland China, concerns are ramping up that this year’s version of the avian flu, H7N9, may turn into a major pandemic.

The last few years have seen several false alarms on the pandemic front. Neither the bird flu of 2004 nor the swine flu of 2009-2010 ended up being of much concern, although agencies from the WHO on down certainly created quite a flurry around both of these flu bugs.

H7N9 has already shown itself to have a high mortality rate, higher in fact than the Spanish flu of 1918, which caused 50 million deaths worldwide. The latest figures show H7N9 as having a mortality rate of 21- 24%. Out of 131 reported cases, thirty-one have died and most remain on the critical list. The bug has already jumped from Mainland China to Taiwan and a number of articles on H7N9 have nervously published the flight paths out of China to the rest of the world, which show how quickly an infected person or persons could create a global pandemic.

According to Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s assistant director-general for health, security and the environment, “This is definitely one of the most lethal influenza viruses that we have seen so far.”

Already, there are questions as to whether H7N9 has mutated and is now transmissible from human to human. Of those who have been documented as infected with this flu, several are family members of others who have been infected. As quoted in Quartz on April 18, “The Chinese National Health and Family Planning Commission said on Thursday it could not rule out human-to-human transmission in the case of a Shanghai family—two brothers, at least one of whom has the virus, and their 87-year-old father, who was the first confirmed H7N9 fatality. A husband and wife in Shanghai also both contracted H7N9.” (Source)

 

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