Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Avian Influenza A (H7N9) - April 9, 2013

Dear folks,

Well, I was not expecting to write to you so soon. As mentioned in my last post, I thought we were at the apex of the flu season and, as it turned out, that was the case as the incidence of influenza in the North American season began to diminish soon afterwards. I had hoped to send a note out now, not on the flu, but on Lyme disease, but some news has changed my plans.

As you may know, just as our season winds down, our next year’s flu is beginning to gather steam in the East and in the Southern Hemisphere. Specifically, China is starting to have flu issues. And as has occurred before, there is a new strain of avian flu that has infected humans there, named Avian Influenza A (H7N9). The local bad news is that, to date, 24 or so people have been laboratory confirmed infected with this flu, and 7 or so have died. This makes catching the flu a highly lethal proposition. (Of course it is very possible that others had this same flu and have not been laboratory confirmed and recovered, shifting these numbers, which is a conversation for another time.) More than likely you will be hearing a great deal about this if it grows or if the news media picks up the story. What they may not make clear is what this all means. Allow me to mention a few points I have made over the past years, so that you have a scaffolding on which to place that information; I apologize for repeating myself, but it may be useful.