By Kai Kupferschmidt and Martin Enserink
Science – The new H7N9 avian influenza strain that surfaced in China recently is now making its way around the world—not in humans, as far as anyone knows, but in carefully labeled, small packages sent from country to country and from lab to lab. Researchers at many institutes are still awaiting their own sample, eager to develop diagnostics and vaccines, gauge the virus’s potential to sicken animals and spread between them, and better understand its molecular makeup.
On Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO)—which now updates epidemiological info about H7N9 on Twitter first—reported three new infections with the virus and one death, bringing the total to 63 cases and 14 deaths.
On Friday, WHO reported that the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Beijing had sent samples of the virus to all five of the so-called collaborating centers for influenza—a network of top influenza labs that work together with WHO—outside mainland China. These labs (in Tokyo, Melbourne, London, Atlanta, and Memphis) will carry out experiments themselves but are also responsible for distributing the virus further to other research labs and companies…. >>Continue Reading<<