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Current Flu Situation
Humans Infected with Avian Influenza A (H7N9) in China
On April 1, 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported three human infections with a new Influenza A (H7N9) virus in China. Additional cases have been reported since . The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and WHO continue to follow this situation closely. On April 19, 2013, HHS Secretary Sebelius determined there is significant potential for a Public Health Emergency related to avian influenza A (H7N9) virus.
Is the H7N9 virus in the United States?
The new H7N9 virus has not been detected in people or birds in the United States.
How does H7N9 spread?
Scientists are working to determine exactly how H7N9 spreads. H7N9 has been detected in Chinese poultry. Researchers are working under the assumption that most people are infected with H7N9 after coming into contact with infected poultry. China’s investigations suggest that human-to-human transmission of H7N9 is rare and not ongoing.
Is H7N9 a pandemic?
Currently, H7N9 is not a pandemic. It is, however, a novel influenza virus with the potential to become a pandemic.
What is the United States doing to address H7N9?
Growing and sharing the virus
The CDC received a sample of H7N9 on April 11, 2013. In order to study the virus and develop tests and vaccines, they immediately grew more of it. The CDC shared the virus with laboratories on April 15, 2013.
Conducting studies with the virus
The CDC uses the virus to learn more about how it:
- Causes disease
- Spreads among humans
- Affects the body
Creating a test to detect the virus
The CDC developed diagnostic test materials to specifically detect the avian influenza A (H7N9) virus. These devices will be distributed by CDC to public health and other qualified laboratories.
Developing a vaccine for the virus
Under pre-existing pre-pandemic stockpiling contracts, HHS placed orders for H7N9 vaccines. By working with vaccine manufacturers before a potential pandemic, we ensure we are prepared to mass produce an H7N9 vaccine if necessary.
Testing for responsiveness to antiviral medications
Oseltamivir/Tamiflu® and zanamivir/Relenza® are antiviral medications commonly used to treat the seasonal flu. The CDC tested these against H7N9 to see if they are effective in fighting the virus.
Initial tests show that they are effective in preventing H7N9. The CDC recommends that patients are treated with them if it is suspected or confirmed that they have H7N9.