June 17, 2024

U.S. and Canadian Governments Issue Statements on H7N9 Flu Virus

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States and the Public Health Agency of Canada have each released a statement about the H7N9 bird flu in China. Public health officials are trying to reassure citizens that the flu is not a serious threat at this time.

Congress BuildingThe CDC states that no sustained person-to-person spread of the H7N9 virus has been found at this time. This non-human virus does have the potential to become a pandemic if it were to evolve, but the virus doesn’t have that capability for now. Public health officials in the U.S. are developing a candidate vaccine virus to make a vaccine if it is needed. The CDC has posted a Traveler’s Health Notice for anyone traveling to China.

Canadian health authorities say that the strain of avian influenza causing illness in people in China hasn’t been identified in birds in Canada. They add that the risk posed to humans by avian influenza in birds is generally low, and there is no risk of catching the flu virus by eating affected poultry. Canada does not import raw poultry or raw poultry products from China.  A Travel Health Notice has been posted on the travel.gc.ca website to provide advice to anyone traveling to China.

Public health officials in both countries say it is important to eat meat and poultry that is fully cooked and served hot. Don’t eat any eggs in China that are not hard-cooked, and don’t eat or drink dishes that include the blood of any animal. The CDC advises visitors to China to avoid food from street vendors, avoid live bird of poultry markets, and don’t touch birds, pigs, or other animals when in that country.

The World Health Organization released a summary on Saturday, April 13, 2013 that says a total of 49 confirmed cases of H7N9 have been reported by the Chinese National Health and FAmily Planning Commission. Of that number, 11 people have died, and most of the cases are considered severe. The cases have been reported from Anhui, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang provinces and Beijing and Shanghai municipalities in Eastern and Northern China. That summary states that there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission at this time, but there are two possible family clusters that suggest “limited human-to-human transmission” may occur when there is close contact in families. They also state that at this time, there is no information to indicate international spread of the virus. No travel or trade restrictions are recommended at this time.

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