H7N9 in Hong Kong

Hong Kong confirmed its first case of H7N9 yesterday, a 36-year old female who had previously travelled to mainland China and been in contact with poulty. The woman was admitted to Queen Mary’s Hospital last month, after falling ill. She remains in critical condition.

This is the second time the virus has popped up outside of mainland China, with a previous case in Taiwan early this year. Since February of this year, China has reported 137 cases of the avian flu, with 45 fatalities. However, it’s worth noting that while the virus does have pandemic potential, the majority of cases occurred last Spring, with less than ten cases total appearing over the summer and fall. Avian influenza viruses often behave similarly to seasonal flu viruses, with the majority of infections occurring in cooler months.

Prior to February, H7N9 had not infected humans. Labs in the US, UK, and Japan have all developed candidate vaccines.

(Image: James Jin/Flickr)

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