Thu, Apr 17, 2014 - Page 5 News List

CDC to close H7N9 control center, as flu season ends

Staff writer, with CNA

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced on Tuesday that the level of its surveillance on the H7N9 avian influenza strain will return to normal, ending the operation of its H7N9 Central Epidemic Command Center.

The CDC’s latest assessment found no evidence that there will be widespread human-to-human transmission, CDC Director-General Chang Feng-yee (張峰義) said.

“The risk of the disease spreading widely in Taiwan via humans in the near future is considered low,” Chang said.

The mortality rate of H7N9 remains the same, at about 30 percent, but its relatively limited human-to-human transmissibility has made pandemic control more manageable, CDC Epidemic Intelligence Center Director Liu Ting-ping (劉定萍) said.

Liu said the risk of a massive local outbreak is now seen as low.

At the moment, there is a higher likelihood that cases will be imported from China, Liu said.

To date, a total of 574 suspected H7N9 cases have been reported to the CDC and infections have been confirmed in two imported cases from China since the disease broke out there in March last year.

Since April 14 last year, a total of 420 H7N9 influenza infections have been confirmed around the world, according to the WHO.

All of the cases have been either Chinese nationals or originated in China. Related disease monitoring will not stop and will be handled during regular conferences held by the Executive Yuan, Chang said.

The H7N9 command center opened on April 3 last year and has operated for 374 days, making it the nation’s longest-serving disease control unit, Chang said.

One of the most important tasks the command center accomplished in response to the H7N9 outbreak is a ban on the slaughter of live poultry at traditional wet markets that became effective on May 17 last year, Chang said.

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