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China's Newest Avian Flu and the Middle East's Deadly Coronavirus: An Update

May 14, 2013 05:32 PM EDT

There are two viruses currently causing a stir among health officials - one of which is based mainly in the Middle East and the other in China.

As reported by the Chinese state-run news outlet Xinhua, as of May 13, 130 cases of the virus H7N9 have been confirmed. Of that number, 57 have recovered and 35 have died. making it one of the most fatal outbreaks in recent years.

Fortunatley, however, the news outlet reports that the cases have been sporadic and do not indicate that the virus has mutated to allow for human-to-human transmission.

According to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO), a panel of international and Chinese experts completed an assessment at the end of April regarding China’s response to the virus and, based on their findings, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Health Security stated that the country’s response has been “exemplary.”

“Government agencies such as Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and local authorities of affected areas acted quickly,” he said, “and have shared critical information such as genetic sequence and virus needed to analyze the situation and be ready to make vaccine if needed in the future.”

Such preparedness, Fukuda said, represent healthy investments into public health preparedness by the Chinese government.

Furthermore, according to Medical News Today, a professor at Purdue’s College of Veterinary Medicine by the name of Suresh Mittal has developed an immunization procedure that includes genes from multiple strains of the virus, thus offering possible protection through multiple mutations.

Meanwhile, in the Middle East, fears regarding a new coronavirus continue to grow as the number of cases increase.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevent, the virus has infected 38 people from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirate and France between April 2012 and May of this year.

In addition, as the agency reports, It is the same kind of virus behind SARS, which killed 800 people in 2003, and has shown evidence of transmission between people.

Thus far, health officials do not recommend changing health plans to avoid the region, although it does ask that those individuals who do and subsequently develop a fever visit a doctor right away.

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