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Update: Increase in Human Infections with Novel Asian Lineage Avian Influenza A(H7N9) Viruses During the Fifth Epidemic - China, October 1, 2016-August 7, 2017.

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep; 66(35): 928-932, 2017 Sep 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-28880856


Among all influenza viruses assessed using CDC's Influenza Risk Assessment Tool (IRAT), the Asian lineage avian influenza A(H7N9) virus (Asian H7N9), first reported in China in March 2013,* is ranked as the influenza virus with the highest potential pandemic risk (1). During October 1, 2016-August 7, 2017, the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China; CDC, Taiwan; the Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection; and the Macao CDC reported 759 human infections with Asian H7N9 viruses, including 281 deaths, to the World Health Organization (WHO), making this the largest of the five epidemics of Asian H7N9 infections that have occurred since 2013 (Figure 1). This report summarizes new viral and epidemiologic features identified during the fifth epidemic of Asian H7N9 in China and summarizes ongoing measures to enhance pandemic preparedness. Infections in humans and poultry were reported from most areas of China, including provinces bordering other countries, indicating extensive, ongoing geographic spread. The risk to the general public is very low and most human infections were, and continue to be, associated with poultry exposure, especially at live bird markets in mainland China. Throughout the first four epidemics of Asian H7N9 infections, only low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) viruses were detected among human, poultry, and environmental specimens and samples. During the fifth epidemic, mutations were detected among some Asian H7N9 viruses, identifying the emergence of high pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses as well as viruses with reduced susceptibility to influenza antiviral medications recommended for treatment. Furthermore, the fifth-epidemic viruses diverged genetically into two separate lineages (Pearl River Delta lineage and Yangtze River Delta lineage), with Yangtze River Delta lineage viruses emerging as antigenically different compared with those from earlier epidemics. Because of its pandemic potential, candidate vaccine viruses (CVV) were produced in 2013 that have been used to make vaccines against Asian H7N9 viruses circulating at that time. CDC is working with partners to enhance surveillance for Asian H7N9 viruses in humans and poultry, to improve laboratory capability to detect and characterize H7N9 viruses, and to develop, test and distribute new CVV that could be used for vaccine production if a vaccine is needed.