WHO Warns on H7N9 Bird Flu, Urges Vigilance Over Chinese New Year

On January 22nd, 2014, AlertsUSA issued the following
Flash message to subscriber mobile devices:

1/22
WHO issues caution as deadly A(H7N9) bird flu cases surge across E and SE China. Vigilance urged for those traveling to region during Chinese New Year.

 

What You Need to Know

Late this week AlertsUSA subscribers were notified via text messages to their mobile devices of warnings from the World Health Organization regarding the surge in confirmed cases of the deadly H7N9 bird flu virus in China, and the need for vigilance on the part of travelers heading to the region for the Chinese New Year, which falls on Jan 31st.

This story may be difficult many Americans to grasp due to the sheer magnitude and importance of the holiday. Also known to the Chinese as the Spring Festival, or the Feast of the First Morning (or Tet) to the Vietnamese, or Seollal (pronounced “sol-nol” ) to the Koreans, it is, by far, the most important annual holiday in all of Asia and represents the single largest annual migration of human beings on the planet.

For a period of about four weeks centered on Jan 31st, hundreds of millions of people from across the region and around the world return to their home towns to attend a reunion dinner with their families. This is a big deal and includes many hundreds of thousands of U.S. and Canadian citizens who make the trip as well.

Public Health authorities and epidemiologists are deeply concerned this year due to the resurgence of the H7N9 and the H5N1 bird flu viruses, which are most active in the winter and spring, combined with the high density transportation of hundreds of millions of persons (often carrying live birds and poultry) in buses, trains and aircraft. All of this creates highly favorable circumstances for sicknesses to spread.

According to Li Lanjuan, China’s leading researcher on bird flu and a member of the H7N9 prevention and control group, there is significant potential for the virus to be spread by migrants returning to their mainly rural homes from more developed regions. Additionally, duck and chicken are invariably served at these meals and live poultry markets throughout the region do booming business. As is already well known, humans can catch these virus strains by coming in contact with infected birds.

There is a saying in medical circles that when public heath efforts work, nothing happens. This seems to have been the case with last year’s concern over the impact of the Hajj religious pilgrimage to Mecca and the spread of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

But the Chinese New Year is a different situation entirely. With hundreds of millions of people on the move, then clustering with family and friends, in the midst of several deadly strains of influenza circulating, there is the potential for serious global health implications.

As previously reported by AlertsUSA Threat Journal on multiple occasions over the past months, U.S. health authorities have been making significant preparations for a potential nationwide severe influenza pandemic. While not overtly spoken of, the Chinese New Year migration is one of the events for which these efforts have been undertaken.

On Aug 15, 2013 it was announced that the Centers for Disease Control and the American Association of Poison Control Centers are establishing a “National Nurse Triage Line” using the 211 phone number for a Severe Influenza Pandemic. The 211 line will be used in “managing ill persons with influenza-like illness during a severe pandemic…

On Aug 1, 2013 the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture issued a solicitation to purchase 12 “Mobile Modified Atmosphere Killing (MAK) Trailers for use in the “depopulation of poultry in response to an animal health emergency such as a catastrophic infectious poultry disease.

On July 16, 2013 the Dept. of Health and Human Services issued a Broad Agency Announcement for the Advanced Development of Medical Countermeasures for Pandemic Influenza.

On May 23, 2013 the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control published a 1 BILLION dollar cost plus Federal Solicitation for the purposes of emergency experimentation with H7N9 Flu vaccines and emergency experimental antiviral treatments.

On May 10, 2013 the CDC announced their intended $600 million dollar acquisition of 512 million syringes, alcohol prep pads and other related products necessary to meet the vaccine administration needs of the American public during a pandemic influenza event.

Also consider the following:

On May 21, 2013 World Health Organization Director, Dr. Margaret Chan, expressed “serious concern” about the H7N9 virus.

” [...] This is a puzzling virus surrounded by mysteries. Most viruses of the H7 subtype cause very severe disease in poultry, but only mild disease in humans. H7N9 does the opposite. At present, infected birds show no symptoms and appear perfectly healthy. And this, ladies and gentleman, hides the source of the infection.”

In terms of the current domestic flu season, According to this week’s CDC FluView report, influenza activity in the United States remains high overall. Severity indicators — such as hospitalizations and deaths — that typically lag behind illness indicators, continue to rise and flu activity is likely to continue for some time.

AlertsUSA continues to closely monitor developments in this part of the public health arena and will immediately notify service subscribers of breaking news and developments as events warrant.

RESOURCES:

National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza  (PDF)

National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza – Implementation Plan (PDF)

Personal Risk Mitigation and Countermeasures:

While it is impossible to predict if H7N9 will progress to a pandemic state, the government actions listed above show authorities are clearly more than a little worried about this possibility. This should be a strong indicator to you, the individual, to pay attention and to take a few preparatory steps OF YOUR OWN BEFORE A PANIC STARTS.

Below we suggest multiple risk countermeasures to help you shore up your preparedness for such an event.

It is important to keep in mind the CDC’s findings and actions. The mere fact that health authorities are making public declarations of this kind and throwing tremendous financial resources into preparing for a possible H7N9 pandemic should speak volumes to readers.

DO NOT WAIT until the problem shows up to make a few preparations of your own. In the event a severe Influenza pandemic, products will be SOLD OUT fast.

1. Information:

http://www.AlertsUSA.com    Breaking alerts and information sent direct to your mobile device. You must stay accurately informed. Do not trust the media to warn you in a timely manner.

http://www.BirdFlu211.com   Life saving bird flu information and resources.

2. Medical Grade Skin Cleanser

In principle, influenza viruses can be transmitted by 3 routes: aerosols, large droplets, and direct contact with infected surfaces or secretions. One of the best risk mitigation steps you can take is to acquire a medical grade skin cleanser, as well as surface cleanser.

Of these, one of the gold standards in hospitals and other clinical settings is Chlorhexidine Gluconate, which is sold under the product name HIBICLENS.

The product is intended for use as a surgical scrub, as a health-care personnel hand wash, a patient pre-operative skin preparation and a skin wound cleanser. The antimicrobial cleaner bonds to the skin to create a persistent antimicrobial effect and protective germ-killing field against a wide range of microorganisms.

The link below leads to an assortment of HIBICLENS products on Amazon. In general, this will be the least expensive source.

HIBICLENS Chlorhexidine Gluconate - ALLOW IMAGES

2. N95 and P100 Surgical / Filtration Masks

An ESSENTIAL risk countermeasure for reducing the spread of infection, not only for the sick, but also for caregivers, would be to acquire a supply of either N95 or P100 particle masks. These are (currently) inexpensive and an critical element to one’s preparedness supplies. There are an abundance of scholarly studies demonstrating the effectiveness of N95 filters in reducing the spread of influenza viruses. The P100 is slightly better and resistant to oils/fluids.

MASK RATINGS

N = NOT Oil Resistant
P = Oil Resistant

N95 (filters at least 95% of airborne particles)
P100 (filters at least 99.97% of airborne particles + is oil/liquid resistant)

The links below lead to an assortment of N95 and P100 masks on Amazon.

N95 Masks - ALLOW IMAGES
P100 Masks - ALLOW IMAGES

3. HEPA Air Filters

High-efficiency particulate air, or HEPA, is a type of air filter. To qualify as HEPA by USGOV standards, an air filter must remove (from the air that passes through) 99.97% of particles that have a size of 0.3 micrometres. HEPA filters are critical in the prevention of the spread of airborne bacterial and viral organisms and, therefore, infection. Typically, medical-use HEPA filtration systems also incorporate ultra-violet lights to kill off the live bacteria and viruses trapped by the filter media. Some of the best-rated HEPA units have an efficiency rating of 99.995%, which assures a very high level of protection against airborne disease transmission.

HEPA Air Filters - ALLOW IMAGES

4. Other Items

Other items you are sure to want around include surgical gloves and some form of eye protection. These items can also be acquired at your local pharmacy.