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.
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.
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.
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.