We’ve been here before. The world is once again anxious about a strain of bird flu spreading through China. This one is called H7N9. It has infected 60 people and caused 13 deaths.
The World Health Organisation says it is being spread by direct contact with infected birds, and that there is no evidence of direct human-to-human transmission. Nor it seems are there yet any cases outside China.
Another strain of bird flu, H5N1, (viruses pictured above) has caused the deaths of more than 320 people in China and four other countries since 2003. In 2009, the WHO declared a pandemic alert over H1N1 swine flu, which killed more than 18,000 people.
So-called ‘Spanish flu’ caused one of the worst epidemics in history at the end of the First World War, carrying off up to 70 million people. (See also my blogs of 5 Feb; 14, 30 April; 13 May; 6, 11, July; 24 Oct, 13 Dec, 2009.)