You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

Red Sox Live



▼  7th Inning 0 outs

Daily Dose

Bird flu in Boston: Do you need to worry?

There was a lot of alarming talk over the past two weeks about the new bird flu strain, H7N9, that’s hitting China; as of last Thursday, the total number of cases diagnosed in humans was 38 with 10 deaths, all in China.

How much do we need to worry about this flu strain becoming a global pandemic that eventually hits Boston?

Continue reading below

Not much, say public health officials, because it doesn’t spread easily from person to person. Most people who have been infected contracted the virus after handling poultry. So far, there haven’t been any cases detected in the US, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there aren’t any precautions Americans should take at this point.

Many unknowns still remain about this new strain. “We still can’t predict whether it will have global significance,” said
Dr. Al DeMaria, an infectious disease specialist at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Global flu pandemics have occurred every 20 to 40 years over the previous century, but now health officials, armed with rapid genetic sequencing techniques, have gotten far better at identifying new strains almost immediately.

“We’re finding viruses that we didn’t look for before thanks to better diagnostic technologies,” DeMaria said. “But we don’t quite know the full significance of what we’re observing, so we need to monitor all these new strains closely.”

Loading comments...
Want each day's news headlines delivered fresh to your
inbox every morning? Just connect with us
in one of the following ways:
Please enter a valid email will never post anything without asking.
Privacy Policy
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of
Marketing image of