|Birds are once again the likely culprits|
It was no April Fools’ Day. Taiwan on April 1 strengthened monitoring measures at its ports of entry after Chinese health authorities confirmed on March 31 that two Chinese had died after contracting a lesser-known type of H7N9 avian influenza (Bird flu) and another was in critical condition. Though there are no signs of an epidemic but the cases are a reminder that nontraditional threats, not ballistic missiles or fifth-generation aircraft, are most likely to negatively affect large numbers of people in this densely populated and highly mobile part of the world.
Two men from Shanghai, aged 87 and 27, died from H7N9 in early March within two weeks of falling ill, while in Chuzhou, Anhui Province, a 35-year-old female patient remains in critical condition after contracting the disease. Chinese health authorities have noted that those are the three first known cases of H7N9 infection worldwide.
According to the World Health Organization, which is closely monitoring the situation, there is no evidence that H7N9 can be transmitted from person to person. It adds that H7N9, about which little is known, is a low pathogenic strain of avian flu — a claim that would be supported by China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission, which said there were no signs of infection among the 88 people who had been closest to the patients in the past months.
My article, published today in The Diplomat, continues here.