A new strain of bird flu continues to baffle scientists and is being dubbed “one of the most lethal” versions of the avian flu ever discovered. The H7N9 bird flu has already killed more than twenty-two people in China and sickened more than 100. The World Health Organization (WHO) is now reporting that the deadly new bird flu has spread to regions outside of China.
WHO led a team of scientists from around the globe during a recent H7N9 investigation in mainland China. While researching the outbreak, scientists have so far been unable to detect visible signs of illness in poultry. Infected birds apparently suffer far less severe symptoms than humans, according to still-developing research into H7N9 outbreak. Although the investigation is still in its early stages, researchers feel that H7N9 is transferred more easily from poultry to humans than previous bird flu strains. The experts were also not able to conclusively determine if the latest version of avian flu is being spread by humans.
It is not yet known where or how those infected contracted the H7N9 bird flu. Researchers have been unable to conclusively determine if sick members of the same households came into contact with the same infected bird or if they are actually spreading the disease to one another. Many scientists are now fearful that the H7N9 bird flu could be transmitted person-to-person, upping the chances of a widespread outbreak. This could lead to a global pandemic or epidemic, something at the top of the concerns list for many preppers.
A Taiwanese man developed symptoms of H7N9 just three days after coming back home form Shanghai. He is the first known case of the new strain of bird flu outside of China. Initial tests for the specific virus were negative. He is currently listed in “severe condition.”
Already have the basics in your #disaster supplies kit? Think details: prescription meds, glasses, food & extra water for your pet
— FEMA Region 1 (@femaregion1) April 24, 2013
The bird flu patient told doctors that he had not been in contract with any birds prior to falling ill. The Taiwanese Central Epidemic Command Center contacted 139 people who interacted with patient; 110 of those alerted were health care workers. To date, three of the hospital staffers have upper respiratory infection symptoms.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reportedly keeping a watchful eye on the latest avian flu strain. CDC representative Mike Shaw noted that the agency found “certain mutations” of the bird flu virus that would have been immune to antivirals if they had mutated further. The CDC is currently working on a vaccine for the new—and possibly deadliest—version of the bird flu. It will be at least several months before such a vaccine can be tested for effectiveness.
“The situation remains complex and difficult and evolving. When we look at influenza viruses, this is an unusually dangerous virus for humans,” WHO Assistant Director General Keiji Fukuda said during a recent interview.
Scientists studying H7N9 believe that the new virus contains genes from three other bird flu strains currently present in Asia. The H1N1 swine flu strain, which first circulated in 2009 and 2010, was a hybrid strain that reportedly posed a less significant threat to human life. The swine flu contains genes from both bird flu and mammal mixtures.
Pure avian flu strains like the H5N1 and H7N9 are therefore considered far more deadly. The H5N1 strain killed about 371 people. Although the loss of life was a tragedy, the death toll was not high enough to be considered a pandemic or impact life here in America.
WHO, CDC, and a host of renowned scientists just don’t seem to be able to get a head of the threat, despite their exhaustive efforts. Queen Mary University of London flu virologist John Oxford called the H7N9 human infection “very, very unsettling.” Even more cases of the bird flu strain are expected to be reported in the coming months.
Expert researchers also noted that effectively controlling the latest bird flu outbreak requires finding the source of the virus. ABC News Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser stated that due to extensive global travel, cases of H7N9 bird flu will likely appear in the United States. The doctor cautioned world travelers to let their physicians know of their recent activities as soon as they become ill.
While alerting doctors to recent traveling habits is sound advice, the itinerary sharing utterances will not protect Americans from contracting and spreading the new bird flu strain. If H7N9 is being easily transferred between humans, the single globe-hopping traveler sitting in an exam room could have already infected dozens of others.
All the folks who scoffed at American preppers for their fears about a possible bird flu pandemic are probably watching reruns of Doomsday Preppers episodes about the topic online right now. The Penn State University professor who feels that preppers are a modern day cult might be running out to his local grocery store to stock up on necessities now too.
FEMA used to urge Americans to have three days’ worth of necessary supplies on hand in case of a disaster. The federal agency now reportedly recommends stockpiling three weeks’ worth of food, water, medications, and other essential items. As anyone who has ever watched the news coverage of natural and man-made disasters already knows, it is best not to rely on others for the survival of your family.
I have chatted with a multitude of preppers who utilized their supplies during summer or winter storms, earthquakes, and during long-term power outages. I would rather pray that a bird flu pandemic never reaches our shores but still have ample supplies on hand than be left at the mercy of FEMA.
Mutations of the bird flu, emerging new strains, and controversial testing to create an airborne version in a lab setting for vaccine creation purposes are also extremely concerning. The lift of a ban on bird flu airborne testing caused alarm for some bioterrorism and health experts. As previously reported by Off The Grid News, some terror experts are concerned about the airborne virus escaping the lab and being used as a weapon.
— CDC OPHPR (@CDCReady) April 24, 2013
The deadly bird flu seems far away right now, but our world is a whole lot smaller than what it used to be. If WHO or CDC has a reasonable suspicion that the H7N9 virus is being spread person-to-person, then serious precautions and preparations should be discussed. Containing the new avian flu strain where it is already present is not a form of paranoia; it is common sense.