Experts Wary of Recent Bird Flu Outbreak in China

iStockphoto(BEIJING) -- The bird flu outbreak that has claimed six lives in China has experts on notice, but they say that while the public should be aware of the developments with the virus, there’s no reason to worry at this stage.

“To date, there’s no evidence of person to person transmission,” said Dr. Andrew Pavia, Chief of the University of Utah's Pediatric Infectious Disease Division. The majority of the people who have gotten sick with the H7N9 virus have been in close contact with poultry. This has prompted China shutting down several poultry markets.

Still, the disease has dangerous potential. “H7N9 has not been known to infect humans before,”  said Director of the Mayo Vaccine Research Group Dr. Gregory Poland . Now though, “it has jumped species and that makes it a novel virus and that raises some pandemic concern.”

Pavia says that working on a vaccine now might have an imperfect result, but that it can help get things moving in the right direction.

“It's possible that a vaccine that's developed with a strain that's isolated today will not be the perfect vaccine if in six or twelve months it becomes a wide spread epidemic. However, making a vaccine now has a lot of advantages,” he said.

“I think it's a story that the public should watch as we in the flu community are working very hard to track it because we really don't know where this is gonna go,” said Pavia.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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