News / Health

New, Fatal Bird Flu Strain Closely Monitored

New, Fatal Bird Flu Strain Closely Monitoredi
X
February 28, 2014 2:42 AM
In the past 10 years, a deadly strain of bird flu has killed more than half of the people who got it. Now there's a new strain of bird flu circulating that can kill about a third of the humans who contract it. Whenever there's a virus this lethal, there are always fears of a pandemic. VOA's Carol Pearson has a report that could put some of these fears to rest.
Carol Pearson
— In the past 10 years, a deadly strain of bird flu has killed more than half of the people who got it. Now, there's a new strain of bird flu circulating that can kill about a third of the humans who contract it. Whenever there's a virus this lethal, there are always fears of a pandemic.
 
Several years ago, men in protective suits decontaminating poultry farms and  destroying chickens infected with a deadly bird flu was a scene witnessed throughout Asia. The virus killed birds, and although it rarely infected people, those who got it were more likely to die than to recover. 
 
That virus was H5N1. There's now a vaccine against it for poultry.
 
But a new strain of bird strain has emerged and is causing alarm. This one is called H7N9. H7N9 doesn't kill poultry or even make them sick, but it can be deadly when it is transmitted from a chicken to a person. 
 
One concern that's been raised is that every time a human gets the H7N9 virus, the world is closer to a pandemic.
 
"That’s not correct," said Anthony Fauci, who heads the infectious diseases division at the National Institutes of Health.
 
"Microbes continue to emerge and re-emerge. The concern about this is that these viruses have jumped into humans and have been lethal. The news that is somewhat comforting is that it hasn’t had sustained transmissibility," Fauci continued.
 
Because of the genetic makeup of these strains of bird flu, it is difficult for them to spread from person to person. Since the H7N9 virus emerged a year ago, some 350 people have caught it. Thirty percent have died. Most had contact with poultry. 
 
"There’s always the danger when you have influenzas that infect chickens, that when you have the close quarters of chickens spreading from one to another and occasionally a human coming into close contact, that there will be the jumping of species from a chicken to a human. This is not something new," said Fauci.
 
Fauci said any time a new virus emerges, health officials have to watch it carefully.  The U.S. has developed a vaccine for H5N1 and is working on one for the newer strain of bird flu, but he doesn't think this new strain is any more threatening than H5N1. This virus has been circulating since 2003 and still doesn't spread easily from person to person.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid