Wednesday, October 16, 2013

H7N9: WHO Update & Risk Assessment

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The World Health Organization has published the following GAR (Global Alert & Response) update on yesterday’s announced H7N9 case out of Zhejiang Province, China.  The WHO counts 136 total cases, of which 45 have died.

 

 

Human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus – update

Disease outbreak news

16 October 2013 - The National Health and Family Planning Commission, China notified WHO of a new laboratory-confirmed case of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus. This is the first new confirmed case of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus since 11 August 2013.

 

The patient is a 35-year-old man from Zhejiang Province. He was admitted to a hospital on 8 October 2013 and is in a critical condition. Additionally, a previously laboratory-confirmed patient from Hebei has died.

 

To date, WHO has been informed of a total of 136 laboratory-confirmed human cases with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus infection including 45 deaths. Currently, three patients are hospitalized and 88 have been discharged. So far, there is no evidence of sustainable human-to-human transmission.

 

The Chinese government continues to take strict monitoring, prevention and control measures, including: strengthening of epidemic surveillance and analysis; deployment of medical treatment; conducting public risk communication and information dissemination; strengthening international cooperation and exchanges; and is continuing to carry out scientific research.

 

WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event, nor does it currently recommend any travel or trade restrictions.

 

On October 7th, the World Health Organization published an updated  Influenza at the human-animal interface Summary and assessment,  which contained the following risk assessment on the H7N9 virus.

 

Avian influenza A(H7N9) in China

Since the last update of 26 August 2013, China has reported no new cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus, but reported one death in a previously reported case. As of 7 October 2013, 135 human cases of influenza A(H7N9) virus infection were reported to WHO. Of these cases, 45 died. Most human cases presented with pneumonia.

Most human A(H7N9) cases have reported contact with poultry or live animal markets. Knowledge about the main virus reservoirs and the extent and distribution of the virus in animals remains limited and, because it causes only subclinical infections in poultry, it is possible that the virus continues to circulate in China and perhaps in neighboring countries. As such, reports of additional human cases and infections in animals would not be unexpected, especially as the Northern Hemisphere autumn approaches.  Although four small family clusters have been reported among previous cases, evidence does not support sustained human-to-human transmission of this virus.

Overall public health risk assessment for avian influenza A(H7N9) virus: Sporadic human cases and small clusters would not be unexpected in previously affected and possibly neighboring areas/countries of China. The current likelihood of community level spread of this virus is considered low.

Continued vigilance is needed within China and neighboring areas to detect infections in animals and humans. WHO advises countries to continue surveillance and other preparedness actions, including ensuring appropriate laboratory capacity. All human infections with non-seasonal influenza viruses such as avian influenza A(H7N9) are reportable to WHO under the IHR (2005).

 

Current technical information as well as guidance related to avian influenza A(H7N9) can be found at: http://www.who.int/influenza/human_animal_interface/influenza_h7n9/en/index.html

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