Why This New Bird Flu Is So Scary

...and why it's not

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 8, 2013 9:54 AM CDT

(Newser) – Twenty-four people have now been infected with a new strain of bird flu in China, with seven dead, Reuters reports. The US is gearing up against the disease, with the CDC readying a diagnostic kit for states as well as China, the Wall Street Journal reports. So, how worried should we be?

  • The H7N9 virus has some experts concerned, the Journal notes: It appears to be more easily transmitted from bird to human than the H5N1 bird flu. The number of cases so far is high for the start of an outbreak. Another cause for worry, experts say: The cases are geographically widespread.

  • On the other hand, there are no documented cases of transmission between humans, officials note. Authorities are keeping an eye on 621 people close to those infected, says a director in charge of fighting the disease; so far, none have symptoms, he tells Reuters.
  • The World Health Organization is telling us not to panic: "So far, we really only have sporadic cases of a rare disease, and perhaps it will remain that way. So this is not a time for overreaction," says a rep.
  • A small silver lining? Chicken McNugget prices have dropped in Shanghai, tweets reporter Rob Schmitz, per Quartz.

A health worker wearing protective clothing adjusts her goggles at a desk with a sign that reads Prevention of H7N9 Flu at a hospital in Shanghai.
A health worker wearing protective clothing adjusts her goggles at a desk with a sign that reads "Prevention of H7N9 Flu" at a hospital in Shanghai.   (AP Photo)
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