With the height of flu season fast approaching, experts are warning that the US is not prepared for the destruction that the disease could induce this year.
If a strain of avian flu with Asian lineage makes its way to the US, it could cause widespread devastation as there is no vaccination for it and it has killed about 40 percent of those it has infected in China.
The strain, called H7N9, was first reported in China in 2013, and there have since been 1,562 cases of it there according to the World Health Organization.
The CDC is urging US residents to take precautionary measures if they plan to travel to China to try to limit the disease’s reach.
Experts are warning that a strain of the flu called H7N9 could cause widespread death if it travels from China to the US (file photo)
THE H7N9 STRAIN
The H7N9 strain currently mostly infects birds.
But it has infected at least 1,562 people in outbreaks in China, mainly related to poultry markets.
China recently said it will shut down poultry markets in certain districts of two cities after H7N9 bird flu infections were detected, state media has reported.
Human cases of bird flu have been unusually high for China since last year, with three times more fatalities from H7N9 in the first four months of the year than in all of 2016.
Most avian influenza viruses, including H7N9, have occurred as a result of humans coming into contact with diseased poultry.
The symptoms of the H7N9 strain are similar to those of other flu strains, including, fever, cough, respiratory complications and muscle aches.
H7N9 can also cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, difficulty breathing and respiratory failure.
The CDC has been monitoring the potential spread of the deadly flu strain since it was first reported in 2013.
They are warning that doctors should take into consideration whether or not patients have been to China recently when they report experiencing flu-like symptoms.
The agency said: ‘While the current risk to the public’s health posed by Asian H7N9 virus is low, the pandemic potential of this virus is concerning.’
They have advised travelers visiting China to take precautionary steps to avoid contracting the virus, including making sure any poultry they consume is fully cooked, washing their hands frequently and refraining from touching any birds.
Avoiding poultry markets or other environments that house birds is of the utmost importance, according to the CDC.
Because the virus is not easily spread from person-to-person contact, the CDC does not recommend that travelers cancel trips to China at this time.