Fear of bird flu in China

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Avian flu deaths raise fears among Chinese people

In China there is fear of a new variant of bird flu. On the social networks, the Chinese population was currently extremely concerned about the evidence of the previously unknown bird flu variant H7N9 in two deceased. Many are reminded of the SARS epidemic ten years ago, which was triggered by previously unknown corona viruses.

Two men between the ages of 27 and 87 apparently died from an infection with the H7N9 avian influenza virus in early March, reports the dpa news agency, citing the Chinese Ministry of Health. Another patient at the age of 35 has also been shown to be infected with the pathogen and is currently being treated in hospital in the nearby Anhui province due to her critical condition.

Another fear of a pandemic Ten years ago, the SARS pandemic caused a sensation worldwide in the short term. At the time, the effects of the wave of infections, which started in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, fell far short of fears. But the fear has apparently not disappeared from the minds of people, as the entries of Chinese users in social networks show. Since the authorities have so far only been able to provide very little information about the H7N9 pathogen, there is currently little to counter speculation.

Unknown bird flu pathogen Cause of deaths First of all, further information needs to be gained about the bird flu pathogen, which has hitherto been little known, according to the Chinese health authorities. The news agency "dpa" quotes the experts of the Center for Disease Prevention and Control of Jiansu Province, Tang Fenyang, as saying: "Because the pathogen is new to us, we do not yet have a lot of data about its behavior and mode of action. So we still don't know if it's contagious. "

Pathway of infection so far unclear The authorities have also been able to provide little information on the patient's symptoms. The two deceased men had already shown non-specific symptoms such as fever, cough and body aches in February. Then they developed severe pneumonia. The patient concerned has also suffered from a comparable course of the disease so far, but the infection was not diagnosed until March 9th. The H7N9 virus was detected in all three patients as part of the laboratory tests. Special interest is currently being investigated to determine possible routes of infection. Initially, the authorities assumed that it was impossible to transmit the pathogens from person to person, but two family members of the 87-year-old deceased were also hospitalized with pneumonia, according to media reports. This increases the fear of spreading the pathogen.

Safety instructions from the Chinese health authorities Although little is known about the routes of infection, the Chinese authorities have cautiously asked the population to keep away from dead birds and to pay particular attention to hygiene when contacting poultry. This also expresses the risks that are feared here. For years, virologists around the world have been warning of possible mutations in the avian influenza virus and the subsequent spread to humans. If the viruses were to be transmitted from person to person, there would be a dramatic pandemic. Even today, people around the world are regularly infected with the H5N1 bird flu virus, although there has always been a transmission from birds to humans.

Avian flu already relatively widespread today? According to official statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), 622 people have been infected with the H5N1 avian influenza virus since 2003 and 371 of them have died. However, these figures are only meaningful to a limited extent, since far from every infection is recorded worldwide. For example, about a year ago, US scientists from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York published a study in the scientific journal Science, which assumes that millions of people worldwide have already been infected with the bird flu pathogen. According to her research, avian flu is more common than expected. This speaks on the one hand for a significantly higher transmission rate, but on the other hand also for a significantly lower lethality than the around 60 percent determined by the WHO. Because, as a rule, only the particularly serious infections are registered, especially in the developing countries, whereby the probability of a fatal outcome is significantly higher than that of a less severe disease, according to the US scientists. Nevertheless, the risk of a variant of avian influenza virus that can be transmitted from person to person should not be underestimated. (fp)

Also read:
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Dangerous bird flu virus or harmless?
Avian flu viruses detected

Image: Aka / pixelio.de

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