Thursday, April 4, 2013

Pigeon is Shanghai test positive for H7N9

Chinese authorities have announced more human infections and another death associated with H7N9.  The news brings the totals up to 14 human infections and 5 deaths - 6 cases and 4 deaths in Shanghai alone.
The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture also announced that H7N9 has been isolated from pigeons found in a Shanghai market place.  Sequencing analysis indicates a positive match for the viruses recovered from the human cases.

 Are skyrats spreading H7N9?

Pigeons do not typically spread influenza viruses. Most experimental studies have focused on highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses. A 1996 USDA study found that pigeons were not readily infected by an HPAI H5N2 virus and never shed any virus (thus no transmission). However, as the HPAI H5N1 outbreak continued over the last decade and the virus began accruing mutations that gave it human like receptor binding ability, a few pigeons were reported to have been infected with the virus.

I assume there have been a lot of birds swabbed in China over the last week. I suspect as data comes in there will be more species turning up positive. The positive birds came from a market place that likely contained chickens, ducks and other poultry species. Given the historically low prevalence of flu in pigeons, it would be surprising if the virus was not found in the more commonly infected poultry species.


  1. pigeons have human type receptors alpha2-6,
    chickens alpha 2-3,quail both
    they had quail and equine and swine also with H9N2, could this all be some alpha 2,{3,6]
    mixing ? plus E627K etc.

  2. Ability to carry virus without illness in birds