By Shannon Najmabadi
Image credit: Andres Rueda.
According to Xinhua, Chinese authorities have approved a drug believed to be effective in treating the H7N9 avian flu virus that has resulted in six deaths so far.
The China Food and Drug Administration issued a statement on Saturday detailing the potential benefits of injections of peramivir, a neuraminidase inhibitor, diluted in sodium chloride that has reportedly proven effective in treating H7N9 in preliminary tests.
Chinese officials have said the H7N9 virus is not transmissible human-to-human, a diagnosis confirmed by the WHO, and have touted the beneficial effects of herbal remedy ban lan gen. Additionally, they have closed several poultry markets and slaughtered poultry in an effort to stem the spread of the virus. Compared to the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic, officials have responded relatively quickly and publicly, providing timely updates on the virus.
However, health officials as far as America have expressed concern over the outbreak of H7N9.
According to Forbes, genetic evaluation of the virus shows it has the ability to mutate readily.
“Here’s how the World Health Organization (WHO) put it in a statement released yesterday: “analysis of the genes of these viruses suggests that although they have evolved from avian (bird) viruses, they show signs of adaptation to growth in mammalian species.”
According to the (US) Centre for Disease Control (CDC), the virus has “the potential to become a pandemic if it changed to become easily and sustainably spread from person to person”.
Forbes also points out what most of the Chinese media hasn’t, while H7N9 has only infected a small portion of the Chinese population, more than half of those infected have been killed or left severely ill. Of the eighteen cases confirmed, six have died and four have been left in critical condition.
Most of the people identified with the new bird flu have had symptoms of severe pneumonia such as chest congestion, difficulty breathing, fever, and severe cough. However the case reports are so recent that experts don’t believe they have a full picture of all possible symptoms.