H7N9 Spreads Beyond Mainland China

Taiwanese health officials said they are screening travelers arriving from China for signs of H7N9. This is the first case of H7N9 to be seen outside of mainland China. In response to the news, Malaysia has joined Vietnam and Indonesia in temporarily banning the import of poultry from China.

Keiji Fukuda, the WHO’s assistant director-general for health, security and the environment told reporters this week that H7N9 is “one of the most lethal influenza viruses that we have seen so far.” So far, there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission. “We do want to note, however, that if limited person-to-person transmission is demonstrated in the future, this really will not be surprising,” Fukuda warned, adding that it was critical to remain vigilant, monitoring the virus’s spread and mutation.

The CDC has already begun bracing for H7N9 by preparing a vaccine, and U.S. doctors have been urged to promptly report suspected bird flu cases to their state health departments.