Chinese researchers report new H7N2 avian flu virus
An H7N2 avian flu virus isolated from the farm of a Chinese man who had contracted H7N9 avian flu is a novel reassortant of H7N9 and H9N2 viruses, Chinese researchers reported yesterday in Emerging Infectious Diseases.
In February of this year the team sampled 60 of 500 chicken's on the patient's farm in Jilin province and 50 from neighboring flocks and collected 36 fecal samples from the patient's farm and neighboring flocks. From cloacal (anal) samples taken from birds on the patient's farm they isolated an H9N2 and an H7N2 virus.
The scientists found that the H7N2 virus derived its HA, PB2, PB1, PA, NP, and M genes from the H7N9 virus that emerged in China last year, and they said its NA and NS genes were closely related to the H9N2 virus isolated on the same farm.
They observed the chickens for 10 days, and none showed signs of disease. Mice inoculated with the H7N2 virus all survived but showed signs of weight loss.
The authors wrote, "Although we did not find any H7N9 viruses in chickens during this investigation, the fact that the owner of the chickens was infected with an H7N9 virus indicates that H7N9 viruses might have circulated among these chickens." They did, however, find high levels of antibodies to H7 in the chickens.
They conclude, "The nonpathogenic nature of H7 viruses in poultry enables them to replicate silently in birds. The high positive ratio of antibody against H7 viruses detected by hemagglutination assay and the huge diversity of antibody levels among chickens from the H7N9 patient's farm demonstrate that the H7 viruses might have been introduced and circulated in these birds for several weeks before they were detected."
Sep 4 Emerg Infect Dis story
South Australia struggling with heavy flu burden
Hospitals in South Australia state are struggling with flu levels not seen since the 2009 pandemic, with the number of cases double what it was a year ago, the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC) reported today.
"It's having a huge impact on the number of people who are presenting to our emergency departments, particularly the people who are vulnerable," said state Minister for Health Jack Snelling. He predicted the crush could continue for about a month and said 100 extra hospital beds have been made available.
Another official said five out of six metropolitan hospital emergency departments in Adelaide were full at some point yesterday. The Queen Elizabeth Hospital had been full for a week, with some patients waiting hours to be treated, the story said.
"Our major hospitals have really been stretched to breaking point in the past week," the official said.
Sep 5 ABC report