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Experts Say Too Soon To Tell If H7N9 Will Slow; Research Continues Into Origin, Vaccine

Some experts believe the number of new cases of H7N9 avian flu might be slowing, “perhaps due to control measures China has taken,” the Canadian Press/Vancouver Sun reports. “But experts warn it’s far too soon to gauge what H7N9 has in store for humankind,” the news agency continues (Branswell, 5/8). According to NPR’s “Shots” blog and “All Things Considered,” Daniel Jernigan, deputy director of CDC’s influenza division, said the virus is receiving a lot of attention in the research community because “people who get it usually get very sick,” it has killed one-quarter of the 130 human cases, and “the genetic makeup of this new virus is disturbingly different from an older bird flu virus [H5N1] that has sickened more than 600 people over the past 10 years and killed more than half of them.” NPR reviews research efforts into treatments and vaccines, as well as pandemic preparedness steps underway in the U.S. (Knox, 5/8). The Canadian Press includes comments from several experts regarding the potential of the virus to become better adapted to human-to-human transmission (5/8).