New Bird Flu Strain ‘One of Most Lethal’ Influenza Viruses
A new type of bird flu that has killed 22 people in China since March is one of the most deadly strains of influenza known, international health experts said on Wednesday.
“This is one of the most lethal influenza viruses we have seen so far,” said Dr. Keiji Fukuda, the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Assistant Director-General for Health Security. “We are at the beginning of our understanding of this virus.”
The H7N9 strain appears to spread more easily to humans than SARS, a different virus that started killing people in Asia a decade ago, experts said. Severe acute respiratory syndrome killed around 800 people globally in 2003 before it was stopped.
“This is an unusually dangerous virus for humans,” added Fukuda, who was speaking in Beijing alongside leading flu experts from around the world.