A new strain of bird flu virus said to spread faster than the H5N1 variant is now spreading in China, and is feared to break out as a worldwide pandemic.
The first case of H7N9 avian influenza virus strain was reported in the Chinese republic last March, and has so far registered more than 130 cases and killed close to 40 people in a span of three months. Chinese scientists say that the fatality rate of this particular strain is 36 percent.
The World Health Organization had earlier declared the H7N9 bird flu virus as “one of the most lethal” ever discovered, and predicted that the new version will spread faster than its predecessors. The death rate of H7N9 virus is far lower than H5N1, which has a mortality rate of 70 percent. But compared to the H1N1 swine flu pandemic in 2009, the potential risk of H7N9 is greater.
On a more positive swing, US National Institutes of Health (NIH) representatives Lone Simonsen and Cecile Viboud reported that H7N9 is already being controlled. “The good news is that numbers of cases have stalled,” the duo said as part of a commentary attached to a published article in The Lancet journal.
In the case of China, the country was also able to control the outbreak by closing live animal shops. This confirms the assumption of scientists that contraction of the virus strain comes from being exposed to birds.
According to NIH, the virus outbreak is stopped “temporarily”. Come winter during the active months of the flu virus, the strain might return.