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April 27, 2013
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H7N9 Bird Flu Virus - ALLOW IMAGES
H7N9 Bird Flu 'One of the Most Lethal So Far'
20% Kill Rate
April 27, 2013
What You Need to Know

While U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention director Tom Frieden suggests there is no cause for panic over the new H7N9 bird flu strain taking off in China and that Americans should “go about their daily lives,” this unusually dangerous virus has health officials worldwide particularly concerned. According to the World Health Organization, the H7N9 bird flu virus is turning out to be one the most lethal influenza strains ever identified.

20% Kill Rate

The first case appeared in China in late February and has since spread to scores of others, with at least 109 cases having been reported to WHO thus far, 22 of which have resulted in death (CDC report 123 infections and 14 deaths). This amounts to a kill rate of about 20% and these numbers only represent reported laboratory confirmations, so there is a high likelihood that are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of others who may be infected that haven’t received medical attention or have already died.

Moreover, as reported by WHO, half of the H7N9 cases identified are individuals who have had no prior contact with live poultry.

Thus far, most of the cases have been reported in east China's Shanghai Municipality as well as the provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Anhui.

This week health officials in Taiwan confirmed the first case of the virus outside of China. The patient was originally hospitalized on April 12, but confirmation of the virus did not come until nearly two weeks later, suggesting that the official numbers and the reality on the ground could very well be much much worse.

Rapid Mutation

While health officials have not yet made a public declaration that transmission between humans is confirmed, the South China Morning Post cites a frightening study that suggests the virus is mutating at an alarming rate. The study by a team of research scientists in Shenzhen indicates the new bird flu could be mutating up to eight times faster than an average flu virus around a protein that binds it to humans.

According to Dr He Jiankui of South University of Science and Technology of China, the authorities should be alarmed by the results of their research and step up monitoring and control efforts to prevent a possible pandemic.

In an odd twist, earlier this month, Colonel Dai Xu of the People's Liberation Army publicly stated that H7N9 was a bio-psychological weapon engineered by western powers and released in China in order to destabilize the region. The comment was carried widely in Chinese media outlets as well as some western news sources, though the Chinese government is downplaying the statement.

One of the greatest challenges world health authorities are facing, as has been experienced in the past, is that Chinese government officials are slow at providing specific details as well as the fact that there are significant delays between the time a patient enters the hospital and when the virus is confirmed as H7N9.

Further, just as here in the U.S. on a multitude of subjects, government officials, in an effort to prevent panic, will wait as long as possible before they disseminate information to the public.

To this end, AlertsUSA has added this topic to our priority threat board and will continue to monitor developments. As always, if there are changes to the outlook of the spread of the virus, AlertsUSA subscribers will be some of the first to know.

Visit the WHO H7N9 Page HERE
Visit the CDC H7N9 Page HERE


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Chemical Weapons - ALLOW IMAGES
Syrian Use of Chemical Weapons Confirmed
Are We Headed for Another War?
April 25, 2013
What You Need to Know

On Thurs of this week AlertsUSA subscribers were notified of a statement by U.S. defense secretary Chuck Hagel that intelligence findings showed the Syrian government had likely used chemical weapons on rebels, and in particular, Sarin gas.

According to Secretary Hagel, “any use of chemical weapons in Syria very likely originated with the Assad regime," adding that the use of the “uncontrollable, deadly weapons” in turn “violates every convention of warfare.”

Remember that President Obama had previously stated chemical weapons use in Syria would constitute a redline that likely would trigger U.S. military action. Reuters is reporting that British intelligence has backed up the US findings that the Assad regime had used chemical weapons at least twice in March. France, Israel, and Qatar have also said they have found evidence of chemical weapons use.

It was also announced this week that the Pentagon is deploying at least 200 additional troops to Jordan to join the several hundred special operation forces and other units already in the country. More are likely to follow in the coming weeks.

Secretary of State John Kerry this week urged NATO members to prepare for the possible use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime. Some Washington lawmakers, including Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona, are calling for an armed US response.

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With times getting worse by the day, we urge you to utilize these resources.

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Senkaku Islands Map - ALLOW IMAGES
Tensions Flare Between China and Japan
With the U.S. in the Middle
April 25, 2013
What You Need to Know

More than six months since the joint Chinese-Japanese escalation over the disputed Senkaku island chain in the East China Sea, tensions spiked this week when an armada of eight Chinese ships entered what Japan claimed were its territorial waters. The intrusion came after approximately 10 fishing boats carrying members of a conservative political group left Okinawa and headed toward the islands on Monday night.

In response to questions by lawmakers in Japan's Diet, the Prime Minister said, “We would take decisive action against any attempt to enter territorial waters and to land. It would be natural for us to expel by force (the Chinese) if they were to make a landing.”

The very next day, Kyodo news reported that Japan's Defense Ministry issued a statement saying "about 1,000 officers of the nation's Self-Defense Forces will participate in a U.S. drill to be held in California in June involving recapturing control of an isolated island." This will be the first time for SDF personnel to participate in such a drill on the U.S. mainland and is clearly meant to send a message to China that the U.S. is fully in support of Japan in the dispute.

Readers need to keep in mind that in the greater scope of things, the U.S. is in a particularly difficult situation in this dispute. Unfortunately, China and Japan are America's bankers. The two countries are the #2 and #3 holders of U.S. debt. On top of this, the U.S. has multiple military bases in Japan. This creates a need to walk an incredibly thin line while trying to keep the peace. It is not beyond the realm of consideration that China could fire off an economic bombshell simply by dumping U.S. Treasuries. While conventional wisdom says that China would not do this as the U.S. is a major trading partner, the leverage this financial WMD holds is considerable.

In terms of Japan, China could deal a significant blow by simply halting all exports to the tiny nation while boycotting all of their imports. For lack of a better comparison, this would be the equivalent of an economic Hiroshima that would be felt not only in Japan but across all G7 nations considering Japans importance is the world currency markets.

China clearly has the upper hand in this situation regardless of perceived legal claims to the islands. As one commentator summed up the situation this week, "the only question is whether Beijing feels it is ready and willing to now truly challenge the Western reserve currency hegemony."



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