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Biologic Update for the week of May 6, 2013

Weekly report on biologic events and emerging disease

H7N9 - Avian Influenza

According to both World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are currently 130 confirmed cases with 31 deaths from H7N9. Both WHO and CDC further report no indication of human to human transmission of this avian flu virus at this time. WHO isnot recommending  any special screening or travel restrictions at this time. There have been no cases reported outside of China and as of this posting, the situation seems to be following a similar path to H5N1 in 2005. 

The CDC, however has urged US hosptials to remain alert for H7N9 cases and has issued interim guidelines on the use of antivirals for this avain flu. 

Novel Corona Virus (NCov)

The most recent updates to the novel corona virus include a change in name. The virus is now being described as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-CoV or MERS-Cov. According to published information as of this post, there have been 13 people infected with MERS-CoV with 7 deaths. All sources indicate that human to human transmission is probable. 

According to UPMC Center for Health Security there are several important similarities and significant differneces between SARS (2003) and the current MERS-CoV :

Similarities between MERS-CoV and SARS include:
  • Disease is caused by a novel coronavirus.
  • Bats are the suspected reservoir species from which the virus originates.
  • The intermediary animal from which the virus spills into human populations is not known.
  • Disease spread may be occurring in healthcare facilities.
Significant differences between MERS-CoV and SARS:
  • There is no evidence of human MERS-CoV superspreaders who disproportionately transmit the virus among people.
  • There is no evidence yet of sustained human-to-human transmission.
  • MERS-CoV infects a broader range of cell types throughout the body.
  • MERS-CoV may respond to treatment with medications similar to those used to treat hepatitis C.

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