The newest strain of the swine flu (H7H9) has has infected a total of 110 individuals and caused 23 deaths thus far in China alone. What this means for the surrounding regions for China could be devastating as one traveler from Taiwan recently died with the “worst case” seen to date.
What You Need to Know About H7H9
Human to Human transmission not concluded: Thus far there have been no confirmed information that any of the number of cases of the H7H9 virus have been a result of human-to-human transmission. It does not entirely rule out that in some instance that one of these cases may be traced back to that sort of contagiousness as noted by WHO director-general Keijing Fukada at a conference held in Beijing on Wednesday who stated the following comment to the public:
“If limited person-to-person transmission is demonstrated in the future, this really will not be surprising,”
This strain is lethal and most serious strain ever found: From the previous strain (H5N1) that caused 332 deaths from 2004-2007 to this latest strain, it is clear to health experts that this strain is a much more serious one. Reason being is that until the past month of March, there had never been any known cases of a person contracting the H7H9 as it was only transmitted from bird to bird- until that time. Now with so many reported human cases of the strain, there are still so many “unknowns about this infection.” If it becomes more easily transmitted between bird-to-person, or even person-to-person, this strain of the bird flu could likely become a pandemic.
Sources of this new H7H9 strain cannot be pinpointed: There are so many things that health officials and investigators are trying to figure out about this strain. However, as investigative efforts are in full-force scientists are tracing the genes of the virus, and now have absolute proof that this virus can spread in humans (although it was once only thought to grow in birds because of their lower than human normal body temperatures. In addition, officials are taking precautions to get a vaccine produced with International efforts being involved- that will prevent this virus from spreading any further and to provide protection to those who may be exposed to it in all forms.
Precautions can be taken to Lessen Risk for Contracting it: To avoid contracting the disease people can take precautions by cooking their poultry where all parts of the meat reach a total of 158 degrees. Cooking the meat to its ultimate potential can reduce and omit the risk of getting it from eating under-cooked poultry that is infected with the H7H9 virus. Wash your hands frequently, and do not handle or touch any live birds.
Travelers should take measures to refrain from getting H7H9: Travelers should not be abolsutely paranoid of contracting the virus by entering China, however the CDC is issuing statements to the public that warn travelers from consuming any under-cooked/raw poultry while visiting there as well as to refrain from touching or handling any birds in China, period.
Since the most recent outbreak of the new strain of swine flu (bird flu) in some limited regions of China, people all over the globe are growing more concerned as to whether this pandemic will flourish and spread to the countries where they reside. In addition, there has been a substantial amount of travelers that are also canceling their travel plans in fear of contracting the lethal virus. However, (WHO) health officials have told the public that they are monitoring and screening those travelers leaving and entering the Provinces of China which have been infected with the deadly virus.
This though, is not providing the public with the much needed peace of mind that they need in regards to their own safety. But, in lieu of the prominent media attention that these circumstances are deriving, it is important that you are educated on the main aspects of the bird flu (H5N1) and the newest strain of H7H9 as there are now reported cases of the flu that are impacting individuals in regions outside of China.
*It is important that if anyone has recently traveled to or from China and is experiencing shortness of breath, fever, malaise within 10 days from the date of their travels- that these individuals seek medical attention.