The Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) informed the World Health Organization (WHO) that a H7N9 bird flu mutation was found in samples collected from two patients in Guangdong province in January. Not good.
This is the first genetic mutation of the H7N9 bird flu virus reported by China.
The mutation suggested the virus had become deadlier to poultry but there was no indication it posed a greater risk to people, or made transmission among humans more likely.
Both patients had been exposed to dead poultry. One had been discharged while the other was still receiving treatment. 105 people who were in close contact with the patients were being monitored, but none had developed symptoms of bird flu.
The Chinese have been battling a surge in H7N9 infections this winter and have shuttered live poultry markets across the country after dozens of people in recent weeks were killed by the disease.
In January alone, the H7N9 avian flu virus has resulted in 79 deaths out of the 192 reported cases in China. It is the worse bird-flu season since the virus first appeared in China in 2013. In total, 370 people have died in China from the H7N9 strain.
Time to look at that pandemic plan again!