Friday, January 31, 2014

With Chinese New Year H7N9 cases soar, but experts struggle to assess the risk

Excerpts - all editing below is mine
By: Helen Branswell, The Canadian Press
Friday, Jan. 31, 2014

Human infections of H7N9 bird flu soared in the lead up to Friday's start of the lunar New Year celebrations in China, with fall-winter cases now overtaking the tally from last spring's first explosive outbreak of the new virus.

Scientists who monitor influenza are watching China especially closely now. "For the current period it is important to remain extra vigilant, I would say," says Dr. Sylvie Briand of the World Health Organization, stretching out the first syllable of "extra" for emphasis.
"I can't say whether that mutation will occur tomorrow, in 10 years, or never," Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centres for Disease Control, said Thursday.
That is a fact that is difficult to explain to a public that generally wants clarity, not caveats. Briand, who is director of the WHO's pandemic and epidemic disease department, readily acknowledges the limited state of the current science.
"We know there is a risk, but it is very hard to say (if it is) very low or very high. And most of the time we conclude: OK, it's a middle risk," she says.

Full Article:

No comments: