MERS and H7N9 Emerging Infectious Disease Update

Recently, Iridia Medical has been providing updates on the development of possible emerging viral infections around the world.  We’re currently tracking both the ‘MERS’ and the A(H7N9) virus because of their potential impact on a number of Iridia Medical clients.



In general, most new MERS cases involve men, and the patients’ average age is 56.  There have been no reported cases in Canada and the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg currently has a sample of MERS for testing.  The World Health Organization is currently advising doctors and scientists around the world to stay alert for patients showing signs of severe respiratory infections.

As of May 24, 2013, the MERS virus has been laboratory-confirmed in 44 patients; 22 people have died from the virus. 


New laboratory-confirmed infections of A(H7N9) have slowed.  Scientists are currently studying the airborne transmission of the virus in different mammals.  Transmission experiments help scientists understand how the virus might spread in humans –a growing concern of many medical experts.  Although the virus does not spread efficiently from mammal to mammal, researchers in Hong Kong have confirmed that the A(H7N9) virus can be transmitted through the air.  Although there are hundreds of suspected A(H7N9) infections, the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases, as of May 23, 2013, is 131 and 36 people have succumbed to the virus. 

Key Alerts

  • May 23 – Updates from the World Health Organization (MERS) available here.
  • May 23 – Global News BC updates Canadians on the MERS virus- available here.
  • May 23 – ‘The A(H7N9) inches closer to human-to-human transmission’ available here.

Summary, Risks, and Recommendations

In general, new cases of both viruses are infrequent.  Expert researchers around the world agree that there is no strong evidence of human-to-human transmission in the case of either the MERS or A(H7N9) virus; however, mammal-to-mammal transmission has been conclusively proven in several research environments.  The Public Health Agency of Canada is currently classifying the A(H7N9) virus as a ‘foreign animal disease agent;’ the virus is currently considered a ‘Risk Group 3’ human and animal pathogen.


  • Total A(H7N9) confirmed cases: 131
  • Total A(H7N9) fatalities: 32
  • Total MERS confirmed cases: 44
  • Total MERS fatalities: 22

Additional Information

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