Remember how the first bird flu, H1N1 (and most recently, H5N1, which caused 300+ deaths over a few years), caused fear and panic… but ended up being basically just a scare that withered away?
Well H7N9 should be feared. It's H1N1's dick of an older brother — the stronger, more volatile older brother! It's one of the most lethal viruses that doctors and medical investigators had faced in recent years, with a death toll already at 22, and the first case has popped up outside of China!
That's right, there has been a confirmed case involving a man in Taiwan!
Here's what WHO had to say:
"This is an unusually dangerous virus for humans. We think this virus is more easily transmitted from poultry to humans than H5N1. This is definitely one of the most lethal influenza viruses that we have seen so far."
The crazy thing about the man in Taiwan is that he allegedly has NOT been exposed to poultry, even when traveling to China:
"According to the case, he had not been exposed to birds and poultry during his stay in Suzhou (in Jingsu province) and had not consumed undercooked poultry or eggs."
This means he picked it up in a different way, possibly from human to human contact. Luckily, there has been no signs of sustained human-to-human contact, only limited. This is good news for the world, and they're hoping that it stays that way.
One other problem is that it's not acting in a normal way and is confusing researchers. The virus tends to target an elderly demographic and is asymptomatic or mild in some cases and lethal in others. Nobody knows why!
As of right now, unless you live in China, there really isn't much we can do but wait and see how bad it gets. It's always better to know something might be coming, though, than to be surprised!
[Image via AP Images.]