Avian Influenza A (H7N9) & Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)

May 31, 2013

Avian Influenza A (H7N9)

 
  • In February and March 2013, the first cases of the avian influenza A(H7N9) virus were observed in China.  H7N9 influenza A viruses typically circulate in birds, and, before now, infections had not been observed in humans. Symptoms of human infection include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Many cases developed pneumonia. A small number of persons who were positive were asymptomatic.
 
  • To May 17, 2013 there have been 130 cases reported in China in eight Provinces (Anhui, Henan, Hunan, Fujian, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Shandong, and Zhejiang) and two Municipalities (Beijing and Shanghai). One case was reported in Taiwan with travel history to China. 36 deaths have been reported.
   
  • The PHL has verified that our screening assay does identify this virus as Influenza A. Our next step is to verify the subtyping assay for H7N9. This validation and verification will be completed by the end of June. Once we confirm our H7N9 testing capabilities we will send out a notification to our stakeholders. For the interim, testing is currently available at the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML), Winnipeg, MB.
 
  • We ask that you page 553-3754 to alert the PHL of any possible cases of Avian Influenza A (H7N9). Standard respiratory specimens are acceptable for Avian Influenza A (H7N9) testing. The PHL will update our website, www.publichealthlab.ca, if more information becomes available.
     

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)

 
  • From September 2012 to May17, 40 cases of the novel coronavirus (MERS-CoV; also referred to as Human coronavirus Erasmus Medical Centre – HCoV-EMC/2012 or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus – MERS-CoV) have been identified, 20 of which have died. The majority of cases have occurred in countries in the Middle East – including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Cases were also reported in Germany, France and the United Kingdome. The European cases are all linked directly or indirectly to travel to the Middle East.
   
  • Coronaviruses typically infect the upper respiratory tract and cause mild illness, including the common cold. However, some coronaviruses (including SARS) can cause a more serious infection. Among the 40 cases of MERS-CoV, all had respiratory symptoms. Most presented with severe acute respiratory disease and required hospitalization.
 
  • If clinically indicated, the PHL will be forwarding suspected MERS specimens to the NML. Standard respiratory specimens are acceptable for MERS-CoV testing.
 
  • We ask that you page 553-3754 to alert the PHL of any possible cases of MERS-CoV. The PHL will update our website, www.publichealthlab.ca, if more information becomes available.
   


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