Analysis of new H7N9 wave warns of coinfection threat

Wednesday, January 29, 2014
By Paul Martin

Lisa Schnirring
Jan 28, 2014

Though ongoing H7N9 influenza activity in China—with eight new cases reported today—is mainly a zoonotic event, its parallel rise with seasonal flu poses a virus reassortment threat, according to a new assessment today from European health officials.

Activities surrounding Chinese New Year on Jan 31 will put humans in the crosshairs of both H7N9 and seasonal flu strains, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in a comprehensive look at China’s second wave of disease activity and its first update since May 2013.

Three Chinese provinces reported H7N9 cases today: four from Zhejiang, three from Guangdong, and one from Jiangsu.

Factors could intensify flu threat
The ECDC said the outbreak in China remains localized, with the virus mainly transmitted sporadically to humans who have close contact with the animal reservoir, presumably live poultry. Though the H7N9 virus doesn’t appear to have the capacity for efficient human-to-human spread, new reassortants with seasonal flu strains could arm it with the ability to transmit more easily, a situation that bears close monitoring, the organization added.

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