Despite a slow release of information from the Mainland, there's no doubt that China is experiencing its worst winter epidemic of H7N9 since the virus emerged in 2013.
The big question is . . how much worse?So far, cases appear to be sporadic, and we've seen no indication of sustained or efficient transmission of the virus. But as the CDC reminded us last week in their Updated CDC Assessment On Avian H7N9:
`. . . of the influenza viruses rated by the Influenza Risk Assessment Tool (IRAT), H7N9 is ranked as having the greatest potential to cause a pandemic, as well as potentially posing the greatest risk to severely impact public health.'
Trying to get good information from the mainland has been a challenge (see The Skies Aren't The Only Thing Hazy In China), and while Hong Kong's CHP has been a reliable source, they can only report what has been reported to them.
Two days ago in their weekly Avian Influenza Report, HK showed Hubei Province with a total of 6 cases for the year.
Today we learn that number is considerably higher, as Hubei's Ministry of Health and Family Planning is now reporting 19 cases since the start of the year. More than triple the number previously announced.
Hubei Province to actively carry out H7N9 epidemic prevention and control
Health and Family Planning Commission of Hubei Province
January 1, 2017 to February 9, 2017, the province reported a total of 19 cases of H7N9 cases, cured and discharged in 2 cases. Cases are highly distributed, located in the city of Wuhan City, Xiaogan City, Jingzhou City, Huanggang City, Xianning City, Ezhou City, Tianmen part of the township.
The provincial government attaches great importance to the province's H7N9 epidemic prevention and control work, the Provincial Health Family Planning Commission H7N9 prevention and control work in full swing, one is held in the province's prevention and control work conference on the province's epidemic prevention and control work was re-deployed, Re-arrange. Second, strengthen the implementation of prevention and control measures, the establishment of a human infection H7N9 epidemic prevention and control headquarters, set up 16 steering groups to go around for inspection. Third, strengthen multi-sectoral communication and linkage, together with the relevant departments to prevent and control the epidemic. Fourth, do a good job early treatment and early treatment and severe treatment, to strengthen the guidance of case diagnosis and treatment work, efforts to reduce the incidence of severe and death cases. Five is to strengthen the epidemic monitoring and risk assessment, to guide the development of influenza-like cases around the monitoring, market investigation and so on. Sixth, do a good job of publicity and education to raise public awareness of prevention.
All over the province to actively organize epidemic prevention and control work. First, to strengthen the fever clinic and pre-screening and diagnostic work, and actively carry out the medical treatment work; the two cases of close contacts were epidemiological investigation; third is to strengthen the management of live poultry market; Fourth, do a good job disinfection clean. The epidemic situation monitoring and risk assessment should be strengthened and the preparedness of epidemic prevention should be well prepared. (Li Jingan)
It is worth noting that prior to 2017, Hubei had only reported 2 H7N9 cases over the first 4 epidemic waves, making this year's surge even more impressive.
Reports continue to trickle in from a handful of provinces, but we are still in hopes of getting some kind of summary from China's NFHPC in the next day or two, one that may help put January's H7N9 activity into some kind of perspective.