The suspected H7N9 case that Crof reported on late last night (see Hong Kong patient, 61, in critical condition with suspected H7N9 bird flu) is now apparently confirmed, although Hong Kong’s CHP has yet to publish an update. Instead we have a brief announcement from http://www.news.gov.hk.
February 23, 2015
The Centre for Health Protection is investigating an imported H7N9 case in Hong Kong affecting a 61 year-old-man who had travelled to Dongguan.
He travelled to the city twice this month and bought two slaughtered chickens at a wet market there on February 14.
He returned to Hong Kong, and developed a cough and shortness of breath since February 16.
He was admitted to Queen Mary Hospital on February 20 and tested positive for influenza A(H7).
He is in critical condition in the Intensive Care Unit.
His home contacts in Dongguan have no symptoms.
With Hong Kong’s seasonal flu outbreak at near record levels (352 ICU cases & 254 deaths as of Feb 23rd report), once again we are hearing warnings of a `hybrid’ or reassortant flu virus emerging; a low probability-but potentially high impact marriage of H3N2 (or H1N1) and the H7N9 virus.
Reassortment is the mechanism where two different flu viruses infect the same cell simultaneously, and swap genetic material, producing a new, hybrid virus. - Credit AFD
For a more detailed discussion of these concerns, you may wish to revisit my blog - HK’s Dr. Ko Wing-man On Flu Reassortment Concerns – published a few weeks ago.