Well, there certainly was a lot going on this week! I had that “déjà vu” feeling all week from April 29, 2009 when all of a sudden people were wearing masks on the streets of Mexico City. Remember that one?!?!
- The outbreak surfaced rapidly.
- The first cases were announced on 1 April 2013 – a mere six days ago.
- The first death apparently occurred on 27 February 2013.
- It is widely distributed with confirmed cases in three adjoining provinces that wrap around Shanghai, and in Shanghai.
- It is novel: H7N9 has never been documented in humans before.
Where to turn for information? Word to the wise – seek credible sources and don’t read any one posting and think that it is gospel. One of my favorite science writers, Maryn McKenna (Wired Magazine) has published a great go-to list. I would also add ProMedMail.org as well.
Reporters: Helen Branswell of the Canadian Press; Declan Butler of Nature; Martin Enserink of Science; my former colleagues Lisa Schnirring and Robert Roos at CIDRAP. (Also Mara Hvistendahl of Science, if she covers this, as she is based in Shanghai.)
Crowdsourced data: HealthMap, a huge Harvard- and Google-backed effort that combines Web-scraping with human review (also on Twitter, as is their blog editor Anna Tomasulo and their founder John Brownstein); FluTrackers, a volunteer, civilian effort that has been going since the H5N1 days.
Be smart, stay loose and pay attention. Oh yeah, one more thing – revise your pandemic plan…NOW!