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Just recently, the outbreak of the H7N9 bird flu in Shanghai, China caused panic and distress among its citizens with the inclusion of its neighboring countries, eliciting the interest and concern of major health sectors around the globe. Why wouldn’t they be alarmed? H7N9 is a threat to a person’s health stability since it can be transferred from one area to another or one person to another without being detected. It is a killer disease that can take someone’s life in just a couple of days and sometimes, just a couple of hours especially if the virus is not attended to and goes undetected.

Where did it come from?

Waterfowls are charming and majestic. However, they are also known to be the carriers of the newly bred influenza virus. These birds serve as a mere reservoir for the virus in view of the fact that these animals are not affected and do not show any symptoms. Poultry is another carrier of the virus. In fact, the popular H1N1, which is more like the yearly influenza virus that people usually have, and the deadly H5N1, which is direly associated with the H7N9 virus, are both, in their existence, traced from swine.

The transition of the H1N1 and H5N1 viruses from one species to another is rather astonishing and puzzling yet even before scientists and researchers can provide a concrete answer, the H7N9 suddenly appeared and made its mark by killing 7 out of 24 infected people. That is based on the data given by the World Health Organization (WHO). The investigation of the mysterious virus carrier led the Ministry of Agriculture to the culprit which are pigeons found in a Shanghai marketplace.

Signs and symptoms

The World Health Organization has pinpointed that the H7N9 virus has an incubation period of at least five to seven days. Several diagnostic signs and symptoms will be evident on a person who had been infected with the H7N9 virus. Although vague and limited, the most common signs and symptoms are influenza-like manifestations which include fever that is not less than 38 degrees Celsius, difficulty of breathing, shortness of breath and cough. All of which will evolve into severe pneumonia and it just takes one day to complete the process of transforming into a full-blown illness.

Course of treatment

As of this moment, there is no existing vaccine for the H7N9 virus. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now beginning the development and sequencing of an effective vaccine in order to withstand transmission if one is in contact with a carrier. Furthermore, genome and antigenic sequencing recommended neuraminidase inhibitors like oseltamivir or what is commonly known as Tamiflu can target the virus and prevent it from budding.

As of this moment, Chinese officials have provided the latest statistics regarding the spread of the virus which already attacked 49 people and garnered 11 deaths.

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