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What We Know About H7N9 Influenza

Published: 04/25/2013

KANSAS CITY, Kan.— There are no known cases of H7N9 also called avian influenza in the U.S., but authorities want the public to be aware and vigilant about this new strain of flu that is spreading in China and now Taiwan that poses a pandemic threat. Lee Norman, MD, chief medical officer for The University of Kansas Hospital, was briefed during a recent regional Homeland Security committee meeting.

“This is a brand new strain of flu,” said Dr. Lee Norman. “This is not the H5N1 bird flu that we’ve known about for 15 or 16 years, nor is it associated with the SARS epidemic. This is brand new, just recently genetically typed out for the first time and there’s a whole lot we don’t know about it.”

Dr. Norman says it is most likely an airborne transmitted disease, but researchers don’t fully yet know how it spreads. Dr. Norman answers seven questions that will help the public be more vigilant.

Dr. Norman advises people traveling to and from China who experience flu like symptoms should seek immediate healthcare for observation, testing and perhaps isolation.

“We are past the peak seasonal flu and so a person showing symptoms who is associated with travel should drive a higher suspicion,” Dr. Norman said. 

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