Avian Influenza A (H7N9) Virus

On April 1, 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) first reported 3 human infections with a new influenza A (H7N9) virus in China. At this time, no cases of H7N9 outside of China have been reported. The new H7N9 virus has not been detected in people or birds in the United States.

Most reported cases have severe respiratory illness and, in some cases, have died. According to WHO, no person-to-person spread of the H7N9 virus has been found at this time, and the reported cases are not linked to each other. An investigation by Chinese health authorities is ongoing to find out the source of these infections and detect any more cases.

This new H7N9 virus is an avian (bird) influenza (flu) virus. Human infections with avian influenza (AI, or “bird flu”) are rare but have occurred in the past, most commonly after exposure to infected poultry. However, this is the first time that this bird flu subtype (H7N9) has been found in people. This virus is very different from other H7N9 viruses previously found in birds.

This is a non-human virus and therefore has the potential to cause a pandemic if it were to change to become easily and sustainably spread from person-to-person. So far, this virus has not been determined to have that capability. However, influenza viruses constantly change and it’s possible this virus could gain that ability. CDC takes routine preparedness actions whenever a new virus with pandemic potential is identified, including developing a candidate vaccine virus to make a vaccine if it were to be needed. There is no licensed H7 vaccine available at this time.

CDC is following this situation closely and coordinating with domestic and international partners.

In addition, CDC is:

Although both the source of infection and the mode of transmission are uncertain, it is prudent to follow basic hygienic practices to prevent infection. They include hand and respiratory hygiene and food safety measures.

Hand hygiene:

Respiratory hygiene:

Is it safe to eat meat, i.e. poultry and pork products?

Influenza viruses are not transmitted through consuming well-cooked food. Because influenza viruses are inactivated by normal temperatures used for cooking (so that food reaches 70°C in all parts— "piping" hot — no "pink" parts), it is safe to eat properly prepared and cooked meat, including from poultry and game birds.

Diseased animals and animals that have died of diseases should not be eaten.

In areas experiencing outbreaks, meat products can be safely consumed provided that these items are properly cooked and properly handled during food preparation. The consumption of raw meat and uncooked blood-based dishes is a high-risk practice and should be discouraged.

("Human infection with influenza A(H7N9) virus China," 2013). Retrieved April 11, 2013 from, http://www.who.int/influenza/human_animal_interface/faq_H7N9/en/index.html

Avian Influenza A (H7N9) Virus. (2013). Retrieved April 11, 2013 from, http://www.cdc.gov/flu/avianflu/h7n9-virus.htm

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