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

May 20, 2013

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."

Explore further: Two new diseases could both spark global outbreaks

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.

Three new cases of SARS-like virus in Saudi Arabia

May 3, 2013
Three new cases of a new SARS-like virus have been detected in Saudi Arabia, the World Health Organisation reported Friday.

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.

Evidence of host adaptation of avian-origin influenza A virus

May 15, 2013
The connection between human avian-origin influenza A (H7N9) virus infection and environmental sources of the virus were determined based on clinical data, epidemiology, and virological characteristics of the three early ...

Recommended for you

Novel approach to track HIV infection

August 18, 2017
Northwestern Medicine scientists have developed a novel method of tracking HIV infection, allowing the behavior of individual virions—infectious particles—to be connected to infectivity.

Faulty gene linked to obesity in adults

August 18, 2017
Groundbreaking new research linking obesity and metabolic dysfunction to a problem in the energy generators in cells has been published by researchers from the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and The University ...

Two lung diseases killed 3.6 million in 2015: study

August 17, 2017
The two most common chronic lung diseases claimed 3.6 million lives worldwide in 2015, according to a tally published Thursday in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

New test differentiates between Lyme disease, similar illness

August 16, 2017
Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the United States. But it can be confused with similar conditions, including Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness. A team of researchers led by Colorado ...

Addressing superbug resistance with phage therapy

August 16, 2017
International research involving a Monash biologist shows that bacteriophage therapy – a process whereby bacterial viruses attack and destroy specific strains of bacteria - can be used successfully to treat systemic, multidrug ...

Can previous exposure to west Nile alter the course of Zika?

August 15, 2017
West Nile virus is no stranger to the U.S.-Mexico border; thousands of people in the region have contracted the mosquito-borne virus in the past. But could this previous exposure affect how intensely Zika sickens someone ...

0 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.