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H7N9 Can Bind To Human Receptors But Relatively Difficult To Transmit From Person To Person

“The new H7N9 virus linked to China’s recent outbreak is well equipped to bind to both avian and human receptors, invade the human lower respiratory tract, and replicate efficiently, a Chinese research team found after putting the virus though its paces in a host of laboratory tests,” CIDRAP News reports, discussing a research letter published last week in Nature (Schnirring, 7/3). “The ability of H7N9 to bind to both ‘human type’ and ‘avian type’ receptors may be one reason why the virus was able to cause so many cases of infection so quickly, experts say,” LiveScience/Huffington Post writes, noting, “The new virus first showed up in China in February, and so far, has infected 132 people, including 39 who have died” (Rettner, 7/3). “There is no need for widespread alarm, however, [an] expert said,” HealthDay/U.S. News adds, writing, “The same aspects of the H7N9 flu that make it so severe — its location in the lower respiratory system, for example — also make it harder to transmit from person to person” (Reinberg, 7/3).