The threat from the bird flu strain isn’t immediate, but medical researchers are still working furiously to develop a vaccine. About 110 people have been confirmed to be infected with H7N9, but there is no evidence of human-to-human transmission.
Pediatric disease specialist Dr. Pedra Piedras compares it to the Spanish pandemic in 1918-1919 which killed 40-to-50 million people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns this one could be up to 20 times as virulent.
“If it acquired the genetic makeup of a human virus that can spread rapidly and maintain that virulence,” he warns, “then that is a whopper of a virus.”
The professor at the Baylor College of Medicine says the medical investigators have traveled to China to be close to the problem.
“(The threat) is why investigators are watching it and starting to develop vaccines,” Dr. Piedras says. “You don’t want (to say), you know, oops, I missed that one.”