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China Begins Slaughter Of Birds In Shanghai Market After 6th Death From H7N9 Announced; U.S., Global Experts Begin Vaccine Research

“China announced a sixth death from a new bird flu strain Friday, while authorities in Shanghai halted the sale of live fowl and slaughtered all poultry at a market where the virus was detected in pigeons being sold for meat,” the Associated Press reports (Wong, 4/5). “The samples were collected at a marketplace selling agricultural products in the Songjiang district of Shanghai and tested H7N9 positive by the national avian flu reference laboratory, according to a statement by the Ministry of Agriculture,” Xinhua/China Daily adds (4/4). “All the 14 reported [human] infections from the H7N9 bird flu strain have been in eastern China and at least four of the dead are in Shanghai,” Reuters notes (Wong/Baldwin, 4/5). “This is the first time the H7N9 virus has been detected in humans, but there is no evidence that the strain is transmitted from human to human, officials said,” the Washington Post writes (Sun, 4/4).

“The White House is keeping a close eye on the outbreak …, a spokeswoman said on Thursday, noting that the U.S. government is prepared to help world health authorities if needed,” Reuters writes in a second article (Rampton, 4/4). “Experts from around the world are in daily talks about the threat posed by [H7N9], including discussions on if and when to start making a vaccine,” the news service notes in a separate article (Hirschler/Kelland, 4/5). “The [U.S.] CDC has begun reviewing genetic sequence information on the strain and started the process of making a ‘seed’ virus, a genetically modified version of the virus that could be used by manufacturers to make a vaccine,” Reuters reports in another article (Steenhuysen, 4/4). “While it is being made ‘only as a precaution,’ a spokesman for the [CDC] emphasized, an agency virologist said the agency was ‘fairly worried’ about the new virus,” according to the New York Times (McNeil/Jacobs, 4/4). In yet another article, Reuters examines ongoing research involving mutated strains of the bird flu virus (Kelland, 4/4).