The H7N9 bird flu virus isolate, which is crucial for vaccine development, yesterday arrived at a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) laboratory from China, the Central Epidemic Command Center said yesterday.
After the outbreak of the H7N9 avian influenza in China, the Taiwanese government requested the virus sample from China under the Cross-Strait Cooperation Agreement on Medicine and Public Health Affairs, the command center said.
The center said the virus isolate was delivered in accordance with international biosafety regulations, and the delivery was the first official cross-strait exchange of a pathogenic agent.
The virus sample received is A/Anhui/1/2013, so named because it was isolated from the first detected patient infected with H7N9 in Anhui Province.
The CDC laboratory will first cultivate the virus and use it to test against the existing diagnostic test kit for detecting H7N9 infections, in addition to conducting other relevant research experiments, the command center said, adding that the virus cultivation would require a biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) facility and use of BSL-3 practices and procedures.
The center said it is keeping in contact with numerous agencies around the world in order to acquire the latest information on the development of a vaccine, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has agreed to share its vaccine seed strain once it has been developed.
The command center also cautioned the public against spreading false rumors about H7N9 avian influenza, citing a recent rumor on the Internet that the government was concealing a fatal H7N9 infection in Taiwan.
The spreading of such rumors is prohibited by the Communicable Disease Control Act (傳染病防治法) and the Social Order Maintenance Act (社會秩序維護法), the center said, and rumor-mongers would be subject to a fine of up to NT$500,000.