Monday, 22 July 2013

New Influenza A(H7N9) case in Hebei, 1st for this province.

Hat tips to Crawford Kilian, FluTrackers and Mike Coston for extensive coverage.

In what is one of the most thoroughly reported single cases since we heard of H7N9, the weekend saw the confirmation of an H7N9 infection in a 61-year old female from Hebei province. I don't mean that flippantly, such a ferocious reporting response highlights just how jumpy this virus, and influenza in general, makes those who watch the webs.
The patient, from Lanfang city, is now in a Beijing hospital, on extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) - this indicates severe disease with a need to support the heart and lungs in their task of providing oxygen to the body.  
The patient had not travelled outside of Hebei but lives near a poultry market.

No close contacts have tested H7N9 positive. She was reportedly situated in 2 different hospitals in Lanfang, before being sent to Beijing and tested for H7N9.

I've updated some key charts at the H7N9 page.

This raises a lingering question for me though. Many, many, many samples, both animal and human have been tested for H7N9 in China. As I understand it though, the human samples are mostly from those exhibiting signs or symptoms of illness or from contacts of those doing so. Would it not be a very useful study to add to these data a prospective PCR-based screening study of samples from "normal healthy" community populations/cohorts to see if H7N9 is circulating stealthily?

I respect the resources that it would take, but I also acknowledge the huge laboratory testing capacity currently available in China. It's phenomenal. These data would certainly add another piece to the puzzle.