We’re Not Prepared For China’s Deadly Bird Flu
In Asia, more than 120 people have been sickened, and 23 are dead, from a potent strain of bird flu that has the frightening markings of a potential pandemic strain.
We have grappled with deadly pockets of potent flu outbreaks before. But this one has characteristics that make it different.
There’s a greater risk that this strain could acquire the ability to spread more easily from person to person. If it does, it could have devastating consequences.
That’s because we may not be ready. We have the capacity to make a vaccine. But we may not have the time. What we need are oral drugs that can combat a wide range of different pandemic flu strains. For the most part, we don’t have these medicines.
The number of confirmed H7N9 bird flu cases in Mainland China increased by five on Sunday, the country’s official Xinhua news agency reported. Four provinces — Zhejiang, Shandong, Jiangxi and Fujian — reported illnesses.
Like other strains of bird flu, this H7N9 virus affects mostly poultry – and has spread mostly to people handling chickens.