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Scientists Warn Of H7N9 Risks As Number Of Cases, Deaths Continue To Rise

“A new strain of bird flu that is causing a deadly outbreak among people in China is a threat to world health and should be taken seriously, scientists said on Wednesday,” Reuters reports (Kelland, 5/1). “The new H7N9 avian flu virus has been detected in one more patient in China, a finding that edges the number of cases in the outbreak to 128,” CIDRAP writes, adding, “The patient is a 69-year-old man from Hunan province” (Schnirring, 5/1). In addition, “[a] 55-year-old man in central China has died …, bringing to 27 the number of deaths,” Reuters notes in a separate article (Wee, 5/2). “The patient, a man surnamed Jiao, died after medical treatment failed to save him, according to an official from the provincial health and family planning department,” Xinhua notes (5/2).

“The first comprehensive genetic analysis of the virus is published in The Lancet medical journal on Wednesday,” The Guardian notes, adding, “It suggests the virus might have originated from the mixing of viruses from as many as four different origins, including ducks” (Boseley, 5/1). “Genetic analysis shows that H7N9 has two of the five mutations believed to be required for a flu virus to spread easily through the air between people, said Wendy Barclay, professor of influenza virology at Imperial College London,” according to the Financial Times (Cookson/Jack, 5/1). “The H7N9 virus has not, however, yet proved able to spread between people — which limits its global threat,” BBC News notes (Gallagher, 5/1). Science Magazine’s “Science Live” blog reports it is hosting a live chat about the virus on Thursday (Cohen, 5/1).