Avian Influenza A(H7N9) Perspectives in JIDC: Immune Status, The Elderly and Pandemics. by Stephen Huang

On 31 March 31 2013, the Chinese National Health and Family Planning Commission officially announced the emergence of novel avian influenza A(H7N9) virus infection in humans.  This virus has now caused disease in 108 people (as of 23 April 23), including severe cases and mortality.  Although the virus has not been shown to transmit from human-to-human, avian influenza A(H7N9) virus poses a pandemic threat in the human population due to the lack of pre-existing immunity and its high fatality rate, should human-to-human transmission occur.


Figure 2 from Guan et al., 2013: Typical wet market in China showing staked cages of chickens, ducks and pigeons

In this issue of JIDC, Yi and colleagues of the International Institute of Infection and Immunity, Shantou University Medical College, Shantou, Guangdong, China, published a manuscript reporting a possible route via the mixed poultry-mammals  environment in the Chinese live markets as the source of avian influenza A(H7N9) virus human infections.


Figure 3 from Guan et al., 2013: Typical wet market in China showing close proximity of multiple species including rabbits

Furthermore, based on the predominant number of severe cases in the elderly, the paper also puts forth the elderly population as at high risk for avian influenza A(H7N9) virus H7N9 human disease.


Figure 5 from Guan et al., 2013: Number of nrH7N9 human cases per age group in
China as of April 15

The manuscript describes the lack of knowledge in designing effective H7N9 vaccines and immune surveillance, as well as lack of understanding in the disease’s pathogenesis, especially in the high-risk group.  This issue requires immediate attention for assessing a possible new pandemic outbreak.  The article can be found under this link: http://www.jidc.org/index.php/journal/article/view/23592638.

Stephen Huang



Filed under China, Countries, Environmental Issues, Infectious Disease, Influenza, Outbreaks

6 responses to “Avian Influenza A(H7N9) Perspectives in JIDC: Immune Status, The Elderly and Pandemics. by Stephen Huang

  1. Very interesting posting to draw the attention for A(H7N9) influenza. This creates some novel areas of research about the immune surveillance, viral and host interaction, role of climate on emergence of pathogen and most importantly awareness viewing the ” prevention is better than cure”.
    Thanks for great posting

    • Thanks Yadav. I agree prevention is better than cure. But I also think the current situation highlights the importance of surveillance.

    • Stephen Huang

      I agree with both of you. The current surveillance system definitely needs amendment. In-depth influenza research has been going on for more than decades but it appears that we are still behind and “surprised” every time there is an outbreak. Looking at the WHO Stats, there has always been a great portion of influenza A not subtyped and influenza B lineage not determined. There might have been sporadic H7N9 precursors in the past but we did not or could not report. Also, I think the influenza surveillance and preventive measures can really work hand in hand as one integrated system so that we can catch and limit the spread of disease.

  2. Salvatore Rubino

    Very interesting paper Salvatore rubino

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