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Online Discussion: Tracking new emerging diseases and the next pandemic; Now tracking the Aussie Flu.

Beware of H7N3 - Not just H5N1 is dangerous

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    Posted: June 18 2006 at 5:05am
This is not a new article. It was put up on the CDC in December of 2005. It may be present on the threads here, I have not seen it if so. Because of the recent reports from Prince Edward Island I think this article deserves a close read. If I read it correctly, and many out there will probably be quick to comment looking at the H factor and N factor.

First, when I first studied Virology,  I looked at the H and N in viral names with a blank stare. After all, the average person keeps seeing H5N1 and it means nothing to them in terms of what the letters mean, and I have put up this posting about H7N3 and many people need to learn the difference.  Go here.

Since I have posted this link 3 times and it keeps being modified to stars I am reposting this with _ char - remove them when necessary and add www - etc. as needed.


Some of it is a bit to wade through, but you need to understand the significance of the variations in the H and N factors, because they have a lot to do with whether a virus may target a human or animal. And even more so in the Turkey outbreak, which I have been documenting, and also the several Vietnamese outbreaks, subtle changes occured in the genetic structures which may have made (in some cases it has been stated - have occured) which make Avian more adaptable, or are the precursors to virulent human airborne spread.

So, one can become easily misinformed when some official states "it is not the virulent form of H5N1 - which transfers to humans - so don't worry about it." Then health organizations may neither test for it, or ignore other forms which may still result in a Pandemic. Some other forms are endogenous to birds. These should show up in the Alaskan tests, and even with a sub-type of H5N1, it is stretching credibility to imagine thousands of birds tested with no less virulent subtypes which may occur in 5 to 25% of all birds in some areas and have for years.

The cases in Turkey were a crossroads. When I spoke to Dr. Kumar in the Cayman islands, he plainly told me on the phone, which is reflected in his public statements, when bird flu mutates, perhaps even to another HN form, it will no longer be Avian flu anymore. It will be human flu.

This means that our final villian may not be H5N1. No doubt a form of H5N1 is capable of infecting humans, but the point here is that this form is not easily transferred to people, is usually a "liquid" transfer - although can be passed through direct touching or sometimes and rarely aerosol contact.

Yet with the bug learning to live at lower temperatures and throat and nasal swabs coming up positive, we have a new creature. An adapting creature.

There are a series of press and other organization euphimisms (like saying deceased instead of dead) which are used by Health Minstries to gloss over serious changes in case types, transmission of the flu, and if one is going to prowl the learning hallways of this forum, and did not have to endure, as some  have, virology, microbiology, genetics, and related medical disciplines and education  one needs to learn the difference. For one's own survival and simply being able to know what is being thrown at them as they are told it is  H this and N that - they should consider reviewing the link I prefaced this article with.

That being said, let's move on to Prince Edward Island and the likely event they will report it as "not H5N1". Is this comforting? This will quickly be followed by "Well that has been in birds for years and it does not cross the bird - human barrier.

We are looking for specific marker sites and changes in the chemical substances which have switched to show the virus is mutating and into a form which many not even be H5N1, and yet form a new strain which will be the core virus in a a new pandemic.

So, since the infection of several geese, if you will observe the red scary flags that are popping up on world maps of Avian outbreaks, it may be in Canada, but it is not that far from the center of the U.S. In fact, one friend I called yesterday, both he and his family are very ill, and are less than one hundred miles from this site. This is so close to the U.S. that it is not something to be taken lightly.  My friend was so sick, he could not even talk on the phone for more than a few minutes.

Considering the article posted by CDC only 5 months ago, this incident in Canada may be more significant than will be publicly announced on the media or explained by "medical experts." Consider the data below - form your own opinion.  Please feel free to comment or even correct any technical errors or assumptions in virology that may have been missed or are in error.


Avian influenza that infects poultry in close proximity to humans is a concern because of its pandemic potential. In 2004, an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza H7N3 occurred in poultry in British Columbia, Canada. Surveillance identified two persons with confirmed avian influenza infection. Symptoms included conjunctivitis and mild influenzalike illness.


An outbreak of avian influenza emerged on a farm in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia on February 6, 2004. Slightly increased deaths (8–16 deaths/day) were noted among 9,200 chickens in one barn. Avian influenza infection was confirmed on February 16, 2004, and later genotypic and phenotypic intravenous pathogenicity index (IVPI) testing characterized the virus as low pathogenicity avian influenza (LPAI) H7N3. On the same farm, an adjacent barn that contained 9,030 chickens had a dramatic increased in deaths from February 17 through 19 (2,000 deaths in 2 days). Genotypic and IVPI testing confirmed highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H7N3 in this second flock.


Confirmed cases had laboratory-confirmed influenza A (H7) virus in conjunctival, nasal, nasopharyngeal, or throat specimens by reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (6) or cell culture. Influenza hemagglutinin and neuraminidase subtyping was performed at the National Microbiology Laboratory. Serum samples were tested for antibody to influenza A (H7) by hemagglutination inhibition and microneutralization assays (7) at the National Microbiology Laboratory. Microneutralization assays were repeated at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on serum samples from two persons with confirmed infections and from eight persons with suspected cases.


We report the first known human avian influenza H7N3 infections. Although enhanced surveillance identified 57 persons meeting a suspected case definition, avian influenza infection was confirmed in only 2. The two patients had conjunctivitis and mild, influenzalike illnesses, similar to symptoms reported from the Netherlands in association with another H7 subtype (H7N7) (9). Neither confirmed case in British Columbia mounted a hemagglutination inhibition or serum neutralizing antibody response. This finding has been observed elsewhere in association with avian influenza infection (10,11). A possible explanation includes highly localized infection without induction of systemic antibody. Mechanical trauma, irritation due to dust or airborne particulate matter, or an allergic cause of symptoms associated with viral contamination, rather than infection, is less likely given the delay to symptom onset, consistent with the incubation period for influenza.


To date, illness in humans from H7 subtypes differs markedly in severity from that of avian influenza H5N1 (12). Their lower virulence should not be inferred to indicate lower pandemic potential since subclinical or mild infections may have greater opportunity through surreptitious spread to reassort and through mutation to become more virulent.

Comment :

1) a wider scanning than simply for higher virulent H5N1 should be done to prevent a Pandemic which will spead even more quickly through the U.S.
2) Due to the nature of less severe symptoms, lower mortality, and symptoms extremely simliar to common pneumonia, this could easily pass through a huge portion of the population without being correctly diagnosed as a mutated and infectious virus and will be lumped in with "the flu" or pneumonia.
3) Because of the less severe symptoms carriers would be infectious far longer, perhaps even for months, and some could become chronic carriers and spreaders.
4) Since there are a substantial number of viruses, including one form or another of "the flu" which is in essence is a meaningless term which in most cases is not aggresively treated. For many forms we have no vaccine, antiviral,  or regime to cure it. The majority of the medical system is impotent against it at present.
5) The field of virology is ever changing. Who would have thought common stomach ulcers could be caused by a virus? Who would have thought that according to one physician doing current studies, a triage of viruses may be the culprit for Irritable Bowel Syndrome which for decades could not be cured by medical science and presently effects 10 to 15 percent of all Americans.
6) A chronic derivative of Avian, with low mortality rates, could comfortably set up housekeeping in the intestinal tract (some forms of Avian have been found in human rectal swabs) and we could all have to live with it for some time.


Just because studies are done and it is determined a virus is not  virulent H5N1 does not mean a future strain which is not H5N1 will not develop and be the virus which causes a world wide pandemic.
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MedClinician, thanks. Do you know how prevalent is H7?
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Thank you for the interesting article. Refresh my memory please, which strain was found in New Jersey?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lolo88 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 18 2006 at 7:10am
Wasn't H7 the AI in New Jersey recently?
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ARS | Publication request: 2004 Outbreak of Highly Pathogenic H7n3 ...

How many variations have been associated with illness in humans?

Some variations of the H5, H7 and H9 subtypes have also been associated with illness and disease in humans. Specifically H5N1 (most recently in Asia), H7N7 (previously in the Netherlands) and H9N2 (previously in Southern China and Hong Kong) have been known to cause illness in people.

For more information, visit the Public Health Agency of Canada Web site at:

Which subtypes are routinely tested for?

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has the capability to test for all sixteen subtypes of avian influenza. In the case of an epizootic (animal epidemic), the focus of testing would become the H5 and the H7 and their subtypes, which have caused disease in domestic birds in the past and which have historically been known to change from low to high pathogenic.

Is there historical data in existence to which we can compare these new survey results?

A number of scientific studies, carried out by American scientists, have been published over the last 30 years. These studies were much narrower in scope than Canada’s wildlife survey. They focussed on two migratory pathways and had only limited sampling in Canada.

The survey undertaken by the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre is broader in scope and more comprehensive in nature thereby providing the information necessary to provide a consistent and national benchmark for Avian Influenza in wild birds.

The table below demonstrates that the findings in Quebec at 7 % and in Manitoba at 4 % are both within the literature reported range of 0 to 7.4 %.

North American Findings of Avian Influenza in Wild Birds in the Last 30 Years

The following table outlines the occurrence of Avian Influenza virus subtypes in wild birds that have tested positive for AI.

Most Common Isolates H5 Isolates H7 Isolates H9 Isolates
H3 (32 - 44%)
H4 (5.8 - 28.5%)
H6 (3.3 - 16%)
0 - 7.4%
N types 2, 3, 4, 8, 9
( no N 1 detected )
1.0 - 4.2%
N types 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 9
0.3 - 7.6%
N types 1-9

Notice that every time a H5 or H7 strain is found in the US... they take great care not to mention the strain... this happened recently in New Jersey!

Import Bans Could Devastate Texas Poultry Industry

LAST UPDATE: 2/25/2004 6:03:49 AM
Posted By: CyberBob
This story is available on your cell phone at

The Texas Department of Agriculture says the growing list of bans on Texas poultry exports could devastate the state's poultry industry if they last too long. The bans are in response to the discovery of avian flu on a chicken farm east of San Antonio.

Texas Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Beverly Boyd says Texas poultry exports brought in 123 million dollars in 2002. She says workers and local economies could be hit hard by the bans. Boyd says the state will monitor the situation and try to persuade the countries to reopen their markets to Texas poultry once the outbreak is contained.

Oklahoma has banned Texas poultry from crossing the state line. Mexico, the European Union and South Korea have banned U.S. poultry imports, while Russia has banned all Texas poultry imports. The Philippines also plans to ban Texas poultry.

The actions come a day after federal officials said the strain is deadlier, though not the same strain that has killed at least 22 people in Asia. The virus found about 50 miles east of San Antonio poses little threat to people, said Dr. Nancy Cox, an influenza expert at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Still, state health workers are testing birds in a 10-mile radius of the farm.

Mexico's agriculture department on Tuesday prohibited imports of live U.S. birds, eggs and poultry products. The only exemption is for some products subjected to heat treatment for at least 10 minutes.

Mexico imported about 160,000 tons of U.S. chicken worth nearly $100 million in 2003, making it the second-biggest international market for the meat. The agency said the restrictions would remain in effect until U.S. authorities show evidence of actions to eradicate the influenza.

EU Health and Consumer Affairs Commissioner David Byrne said its ban on imports of live chickens, turkeys and eggs came after he had been informed by U.S. authorities on the outbreak. Chicken and turkey meat are also banned, although the EU currently does not import any due to differences in vaccination policies.

Seoul implemented an open-ended ban Tuesday. About 1,900 tons of U.S. chicken meat currently warehoused in South Korea will be returned, officials said in a statement.

Texas poultry also is banned from Russia, America's largest poultry export market. The Philippines also planned to prohibit imports.

Long-term bans could devastate the Texas poultry industry, whose exports totaled $123 million in 2002, Texas Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Beverly Boyd said. It also could hurt the related feed and transportation industries.

"You've got people and their jobs and the economy in a lot of these small towns that are going to be impacted by this," Boyd said.

Over the weekend, 6,600 broilers from the farm in Gonzales County were destroyed after the strain was reclassified from low pathogenic to highly contagious.

Some poultry from the farm had been taken to live-bird markets in Houston and about 20 ducks had to be destroyed there.

By Monday evening, blood samples or throat swabs had been taken on birds on almost all farms within five miles of the infected farm and 40 percent of farms within a 10-mile radius. Ten percent of the birds at the farms were being tested. It normally takes about 48 hours to get results.

The two bird markets also were being tested.

The precise location of the South Texas farm and the name of its owner were not made public. The lone worker who handled the chickens has had no health problems, said Mark Michalke, a Texas Animal Health Commission field veterinarian.

The independent grower had shipped some birds to live markets in Houston, where the birds usually are kept alive until someone buys them, then are slaughtered. For some reason, TAHC veterinarian Max Coates said, some were shipped back to Gonzales County. Michalke said they do not know whether the birds took the flu virus to the markets or picked it up and brought it back.

The farmer with the infected birds sent out tissue samples for testing in mid-February after some of his birds died and others appeared sick. The outbreak was made public Friday.

Gonzales County is one of Texas' top poultry-producing counties with more than 85 million birds with a value of $100 million, according to Agriculture Department data. Chickens are raised in the county from both large producers such as Tyson Foods and small independents.

Boyd said the Agriculture Department would monitor the situation and try to persuade the countries to reopen their borders to Texas poultry products once the outbreak is contained.

"We'll keep our fingers crossed that this is an isolated incident because we do have a very safe industry in Texas and we want to keep it that way," she said.

It is the first time since 1983-84 that high-pathogenic avian flu has been found in the United States, said Dr. Ron DeHaven, chief veterinarian at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Those cases were found in Virginia and Pennsylvania.

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Might find these interesting
Note because they were not able to complete the testing. They convienetly never typed the N portion.
"But it was misleading, critics argue. Jody Lanard, a risk-communication specialist based in Princeton, New Jersey, has worked as a senior adviser in pandemic influenza communication to the World Health Organization. She notes that the state's two press releases omitted the fact that the strain was H5, focusing instead on the fact that it was not N1."

More info here
Read the last few posts and the New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture /USDA news release:


Published online: 10 May 2006; Corrected online: 11 May 2006 | doi:10.1038/441139a

State's flu response raises concern

Official alerts play down possible H5 strain found in New Jersey.

Jacqueline Ruttimann

Just hours earlier, crowds had thronged past rows of squawking chickens, ducks and geese at a live-bird market in Camden County, New Jersey. But late last month, inspectors shut down the bustling market, ordering its complete disinfection after discovering an H5 avian influenza virus.

In the end, the virus turned out to be a strain that was not very harmful, but the event sheds light on what might happen if H5N1 is detected in the United States.

The country has weathered three major outbreaks of highly pathogenic bird flu before (see 'Past US outbreaks'). 'Low-pathogenic' bird flu, which kills few infected birds, occurs far more regularly. In the latest case, New Jersey's agriculture department made a public announcement about the discovery of an avian-flu strain — but it left out salient details.

The announcement on 28 April did not mention when or specifically where the infection was detected, saying only that preliminary tests had marked it as negative for the neuraminidase protein N1. The statement did not mention the haemagglutinin protein; Nature learned later that the state had a faint positive for H5, which can occur in both high- and low-pathogenic strains. The first samples were tested on 21 April.

Discovery of avian flu led to the closure of a New Jersey live-poultry market.


Later confirmatory tests by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) laboratory in Ames, Iowa, failed because technicians there could not grow the virus. In the meantime, other birds in the market had been killed and disposed of. The market was later reopened.

If a low-pathogenic strain of bird flu is discovered, then individual states, not the federal government, are responsible for alerting the public — and officials say this all went as planned. "The timeline was exactly as it should be," claims Andrea Morgan, veterinary administrator for the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. "The response that New Jersey launched was appropriate."

But it was misleading, critics argue. Jody Lanard, a risk-communication specialist based in Princeton, New Jersey, has worked as a senior adviser in pandemic influenza communication to the World Health Organization. She notes that the state's two press releases omitted the fact that the strain was H5, focusing instead on the fact that it was not N1.

press conference

For Immediate Release: May 4, 2006

Contact: Jeff Beach (609) 292-5531 or Lynne Richmond (609) 610-3526

New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus today issued the following statement regarding final USDA test results on Avian Influenza detected during routine testing at a Camden County live bird market on April 21 and 24:

Routine testing in New Jersey's live bird market system on April 21 and 24 turned up a strain of Avian Influenza (AI) that appeared to be low pathogenic and could not harm humans. 

Further tests on the samples from the Camden County live bird market showed the detected virus posed no risk to humans. In fact, the tests indicated the virus was dead and could not have harmed humans or birds. 

The initial finding was not an uncommon occurrence, since various strains of AI harmful only to birds are sometimes detected during routine testing.   Recent negative results from the more detailed “virus isolation” test, conducted at the Ames, Iowa, USDA laboratory, indicate that initial results from one lot of chickens and one lot of ducks detected dead virus that could not have harmed humans or birds.

Results are still being awaited from a third sample taken from a second lot of ducks.  That sample was sent to Ames at a later date, but to this point, no viral growth has occurred from that sample either.

The results of both the screening and virus isolation tests show the value of the testing protocol. The screening test is sensitive enough to detect even weak or dead virus. The confirmatory tests at Ames are designed to determine whether those screening tests have detected anything that should be of a concern to humans. The Department will continue working with its state partners and USDA to be vigilant in detecting AI in order to ensure the safety of the food system.

The market owner voluntarily depopulated his existing flock. After he cleaned and disinfected the market, it was inspected again by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s Division of Animal Health and allowed to repopulate and reopen.

Again, the Department reminds consumers that poultry products remain safe to eat, even where forms of the virus are detected. Proper handling and thorough cooking (between 165 and 180 degrees) renders the AI virus harmless.
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Originally posted by lolo88 lolo88 wrote:

Wasn't H7 the AI in New Jersey recently?

Okay, everyone take a deep breath here and go into critical mode. First off, I make no allegations as to the accuracy of the New Jersey report. Second, the first link is to a blog. Third, the next link is to where a formal report of the incident should be listed. Form your own opinions as to accessing this link.


The public would likely want to know clear definitions of "high-path" and "low-path," and the differences between H5 and H7 influenzas.

For the record, here is the New Jersey Department of Agriculture news release about the incident."

separate source of bird flu in New Jersey

Avian flu found at market in New Jersey, USA: not H5N1
Monday, May 1, 2006
An undisclosed market in Camden county, New Jersey, found avian flu among live chickens and ducks. The virus was detected during routine testing. None of the animals died from the disease, which the state's Secretary of Agriculture said "appears to be low pathogenic and cannot harm humans." The flock has been culled and the market closed for inspection and disinfection.

comment : no specific type listed here

Situation in Dereham, Norfolk

The two restriction zones surrounding the three premises in Norfolk where low pathogenic H7N3 avian influenza was found were lifted at 10.00am on 26 May 2006. The decision was taken after all appropriate surveillance and tracing had been completed and clinical and laboratory testing had found no further positive results. 21 days had passed since the completion of cleansing and disinfection.

On 28 April H7N3 Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza was confirmed on a poultry farm in Dereham, Norfolk. The Veterinary Laboratories Agency carried out further investigation and confirmed on 4 May 2006, that the virus is a low pathogenic strain, ruling out the presence of the high pathogenicity strain in the flock.

On 29 April tests provided positive results for avian influenza in chickens on two further poultry farms near Dereham, Norfolk. On 5 May the Veterinary Laboratories Agency confirmed that the virus was H7N3 Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza.

H7 does not transmit easily from human to human. In almost all cases of human H7 infection to date, the virus, in both low and high pathogenic forms, has only caused a mild disease. Therefore at this stage this is a virus which only has extremely limited implications for human health.

Suggestion : Let's keep an eye on H3N7 as well.  It can transmit from human to human. And in an early article from CDC it could be a potential source of a human Pandemic.

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I posted this info in another thread... more info there: 

This info should help: Have been looking into information regarding local flu in different regions that could recombine with H5N1.  Found N7N7, H7N2, H9N2 & H3N2 to be of interest.
Influenza Report 2006 | Avian Influenza
"Transmission to other Mammals

Avian influenza viruses have been transmitted to different mammal species on several occasions. Here, following cycles of replication and adaptation, new epidemic lineages can be founded. Pigs, in particular, have been frequently involved in such 'interclass transversions'. In European pig populations, avian-like H1N1 viruses are highly prevalent (Heinen 2002) and an H1N2 virus, a human-avian reassortant virus, first isolated in the U.K. in 1992, is constantly gaining ground (Brown 1998). In the U.S., a triple reassortant (H3N2) between the classical H1N1, the human H3N2 and avian subtypes is circulating (Olsen 2002). Other subtypes of presumably avian origin (e.g. H1N7, H4N6) have been found mainly anecdotally in swine (Brown 1997, Karasin 2000). A H9N2 virus of avian provenance is moderately prevalent in swine populations in the East of China (Xu 2004). In addition to swine, marine mammals and horses have been shown to acquire influenza A viruses from avian sources (Guo 1992, Ito 1999).

U.S. to create a bird flu virus mutation ~ H5N1/ H3N2

"Atlanta, GA, Mar. 24 (UPI) -- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has begun a series of experiments to see how likely the bird flu virus could result in a human pandemic.

The six-month series of experiments seeks to simulate the mixing and matching of genes from the H5N1 avian flu virus that has plagued Asia and a common human flu virus that public-health experts fear could turn avian flu into a pandemic, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

CDC scientists inside an ultra-secure laboratory have started swapping the genes of the H5N1 avian virus with the genes of an H3N2 virus, the strain behind most recent human flu outbreaks.

The goal is to substitute the eight genes of each virus, one by one, with the eight genes from the other virus to see which of more than 250 possible combinations create flu viruses that could spread easily among humans.

The work responds to fears by global public health experts that the bird flu virus could mutate to form one that could spawn a global outbreak of the disease."

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Thanks medclinician great information. Your post was easy to understand by a layman like myself. I do worry about all the strains, not just one.
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