What is the H7N9 Virus?

April 11, 2013 Update

Human Infection with influenza A (H7N9) virus in China

Introduction

Over the past two of weeks there have been a number of people infected with the lesser-known H7N9 virus in China.  The H7N9 is a subtype of the Influenza A virus and normally circulates amongst bird populations with some variants known to occasionally infect humans.  The H7N9 virus was first reported to have infected humans earlier this year.

H7N9

Key Alerts

  • April 2 – China reports 4 cases of the new H7N9 bird flu – View here.
  • April 5 – British Columbia’s provincial health officer releases a statement on H7N9 influenza in China – View here.
  • April 5 – The Public Health Agency of Canada releases a Travel Health Notice for China – View here.
  • April 7 – China closes down multiple live-poultry markets to curb H7N9 spread – View here.
  • April 8 – Poultry sales are halted in more Chinese cities – View here.
  • April 11 – The National Health and Family Planning Commission notified the World Health Organization (WHO) of an additional 10 laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with H7N9 virus – View here.

Summary, Risks, and Recommendations

China has seen approximately 33 new H7N9 infections. These new cases have prompted China to close down various poultry markets, urging consumers to “no longer pursue the kind of eating habits where they buy fresh chickens that are butchered on the spot.” However, Canadian provincial health officers have stated that the level of risk to Canadians is currently considered to be low, with reported cases limited to the eastern provinces of China. As well, to date in China, there have been no reported cases of human-to-human transmission. To mitigate risk, it is recommended that we all practice good hand hygiene and washing hands regularly, coughing or sneezing into your sleeve and staying home when sick to reduce your chance of getting sick or passing illness on to others.

Statistics

  • Total confirmed cases: 38
  • Total fatalities: 10
  • Countries with infection – China

Additional Information

Thank you for checking our weekly Avian Influenza summary, please check back for future weekly updates. For more information, please visit http://www.bccdc.ca/default.htm

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