Impossible to predict outcome in China's bird flu outbreak, WHO says

It is impossible to predict the evolution of China's human H7N9 bird flu outbreak as researchers are still trying to understand the source of human transmission, the head of the World Health Organisation said Monday.

According to the latest official data, H7N9 avian influenza has infected 130 people in China, and killed 35, since it was found in humans for the first time in March.

"Influenza viruses constantly reinvent themselves. No one can predict the future course of this outbreak," Margaret Chan said, but added that "although the source of human infection with the virus is not yet fully understood, the number of new cases dropped dramatically following the closing of (China's) live poultry markets."

"At present, human-to-human transmission of the virus is negligible," she said in her address to some 3,000 delegates attending the 66th in Geneva.

Chan also thanked China for its close collaboration with WHO in sharing its information on the situation and for having "promptly traced, monitored, and tested thousands of patient contacts".

Chan also talked about the deadly SARS-like coronavirus, detected for the first time in the Middle East last year. "To date, 41 cases, including 20 deaths, have been reported," she said, adding that "though the number of cases remains small, limited human-to- has occurred and health care workers have been infected."

The virus is a cousin of (SARS), which triggered a scare 10 years ago when it erupted in east Asia, leaping to humans from animal hosts and eventually killing some 800 people.

"These two new diseases remind us that the threat from emerging and epidemic-prone diseases is ever-present. Constant mutation and adaptation are the survival mechanisms of the microbial world. It will always deliver surprises."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Two new diseases could both spark global outbreaks

May 13, 2013

Two respiratory viruses in different parts of the world have captured the attention of global health officials—a novel coronavirus in the Middle East and a new bird flu spreading in China.

New case of SARS-like virus in Saudi: ministry

May 18, 2013

A new case of the deadly coronavirus has been detected in Saudi Arabia where 15 people have already died after contracting it, the health ministry announced on Saturday on its Internet website.

WHO revises up death toll from SARS-like virus

May 14, 2013

The World Health Organization on Tuesday revised up the death toll from the SARS-like coronavirus from 18 to 20 worldwide, but said the two additional fatalities in Saudi Arabia were old cases.

Saudi detects four new SARS-like cases

May 14, 2013

Four more cases of the deadly coronavirus have been detected in Saudi Arabia, the health ministry said, raising the number of people infected from the SARS-like virus in the kingdom to 28, including 15 fatalities.

Recommended for you

Second bird flu case confirmed in Canada

6 hours ago

The husband of a Canadian who was diagnosed earlier this week with bird flu after returning from a trip to China has also tested positive for the virus, health officials said Friday.

What exactly is coronavirus?

13 hours ago

The conflicts in Syria and Iraq are straining public health systems and public health efforts meant to prevent and detect the spread of infectious diseases. This is generating a "perfect storm" of conditions for outbreaks. Among the infections raising concern is Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, caused by a type of coronavirus, which emerged in 2012. ...

Scientists find Ebola virus is mutating

13 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers working at Institut Pasteur in France have found that the Ebola virus is mutating "a lot" causing concern in the African countries where the virus has killed over eight thous ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.