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H7N9 Bird Flu Not Yet Well-Adapted For Human Transmission, Study Says

“The H7N9 bird flu virus has not yet acquired the changes needed to infect humans easily but it would not be wise to dismiss its potential risk, according to a U.S. study published in the journal Science Thursday,” Xinhua reports. “In contrast to some initial studies that had suggested that H7N9 poses an imminent risk of a global pandemic, the new research found, based on analyses of virus samples from the outbreak in China earlier this year, that H7N9 is still mainly adapted for infecting birds,” the news agency writes (12/5). “Until this year, H7N9 strains had never been reported in humans. But in February, dozens of people in two urban areas of eastern China began to come down with H7N9 flu, and most of them became severely ill,” HealthDay News notes, adding, “When the outbreak was mostly over by the end of May, there were 132 human cases confirmed by a laboratory and 37 deaths — a death rate of nearly 30 percent” (Preidt, 12/5).