GVN issues update on H7N9 bird flu outbreak in China

The Global Virus Network, a non-profit organization comprised of leading medical virologists, issued an update on Friday on the outbreak of H7N9 bird flu in China, which has infected 87 people and killed 17.

The cases of bird flu on the Chinese mainland are sporadic and do not appear to be spreading between humans. Sharon Hrynkow, the president of the GVN, said scientists from China, Japan and the U.S. are sharing data and information to assist with efforts related to the outbreak.

"The coalition of scientists comprising the Global Virus Network have pledged to work together in outbreak situations as a way to speed knowledge about risk factors, severity of disease and development of interventions," Hrynkow said. "This situation is an example of how the GVN adds value in addressing critical health challenges."

Robert Gallo, the scientific director of the GVN, praised China for responding to the outbreak quickly and cooperating with international organizations.

GVN is working with its colleagues in China to learn more about the most severe cases of the bird flu.

"Some drug resistant mutation was reported, so we would like to know the clinical outcome of the treatment," Hideki Hasegawa, a scientist with the GVN, said. "Additionally, we would like to hear from China about risk factors (age, sex, underlying conditions, etc.) of the severity of the disease which would also help for preparation of vaccine policy."

Yeulong Shu, a GVN scientist and the deputy director of the National Viral Disease Control and Prevention for China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said the country will prioritize public health, security and transparency during the outbreak.

"GVN's China-CDC is committed to working with the GVN colleagues to identify the disease etiology characteristics of H7N9 and its epidemic features," Shu said. "We will also work with GVN Centers to collect and analyze domestic and foreign related research progress and results, conduct dynamic risk assessment, and develop prevention control strategies and measures that are driven by the science."