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article imageWith 31 deaths reported, CDC issues calm on H7N9 bird flu spread

By Michael Krebs     May 6, 2013 in Science
As the death toll from the H7N9 bird flu virus climbed to 31 on Monday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assured the public that the current strain does not pose a pandemic threat.
While Chinese health authorities continued to work to contain the spread of the H7N9 bird flu strain through the weekend, the known attributed death toll climbed to 31, according to a report from the Center for the Infectious Disease and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
The deadly influenza virus has a known mortality rate of 24 percent, drawn from a universe of 130 cases.
The World Health Organization has expressed its concerns over the dangerous nature of this bug, however the virus has not demonstrated any meaningful human-to-human transmission ability.
On Monday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sought to assure the public of H7N9's relative limitations, saying the current strain is not capable of delivering a global pandemic.
"This particular virus is not going to cause a pandemic because it doesn't spread person-to-person," Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, told Reuters. "But all it takes is a bit of mutation for it be able to go person-to-person."
Frieden noted that 2,000 people have been in direct contact with the infected populations and yet only a small fraction have become infected themselves.
Virologists remain encouraged that the virus has not yet mutated into a more dangerous human-to-human strain, however the longer this strain of the virus lingers in the ecology the greater the chances that it will inherit the variations needed for person-to-person delivery.
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