USA is preparing for a possible bird flu pandemic
The United States is taking precautions against a possible bird flu pandemic. In this way, potential vaccine candidates are identified and the production capacities required are checked in order to be prepared for the spread of the H7N9 viruses. The United States Department of Health Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also issued guidelines for dealing with avian influenza infections to doctors and healthcare institutions in the United States. In a special information sheet, travelers to China are also informed about the possible risks of infections with the bird flu virus H7N9.
According to the latest figures from the Chinese health authorities, 131 people in China have been infected with the H7N9 bird flu virus. 39 patients died as a result of the infection. After the first illnesses of the H7N9 virus were detected outside of China, the fear of a possible pandemic grows and some states such as the USA are preparing themselves more for the emergency. According to the CDC, this also includes the development and stockpiling of a suitable vaccine in case of doubt. Most of the problems that can arise from a hasty reaction to a feared pandemic are remembered by the 2009 swine flu pandemic. Millions of doses of the controversial vaccine were stored here in order to be able to build up adequate vaccination protection in the population in an emergency. Given the side effects of the vaccine, however, most people decided against vaccination against swine flu and in the end a large part of the vaccine doses held in Germany had to be destroyed again.
Avian flu vaccine is currently under review by the U.S. health authorities to determine whether it is useful to pre-produce and maintain a vaccine against the H7N9 avian influenza virus. Sufficient vaccine doses are currently being produced for the first clinical studies, which are expected to start in August. Then a decision about the possible storage is expected. Production capacities, timelines and costs would also have to be checked in advance. How urgently a vaccine is required also depends on the further development of avian influenza, according to the US health authorities. It can currently be assumed that the majority of patients who showed severe bird flu symptoms were probably infected by direct contact with poultry. However, it has been proven that some of the people affected had no contact with poultry, so a human-to-human transmission should at least be considered.
Impending avian flu pandemic? According to the CDC, the risk of interpersonal infection is still low with the current variant of the bird flu virus, but this could change quickly with a possible mutation of the pathogen. "Influenza viruses are constantly changing and it would be possible that this virus could be able to spread easily and sustainably between people, which could trigger a pandemic," reports the US health agency. Corresponding precautions have therefore already been taken, which can be effective in the event of an avian pandemic. (Fp)
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