H7N9: Terrifying Flu Virus Could Turn Into a Pandemic

Every year, between 5% and 20% of the U.S. population gets the flu.

October marks the beginning of flu season in the United States. The flu vaccine has been improved to better match various viruses that are expected to lead to medical issues, per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to Accu Weather, current flu shots now contain updated influenza A component, which reflects the constantly adapting flu virus environment.

“Generally, people with influenza are very ill,” said Dr. Mark Beahm, a family medicine doctor with the Mayo Clinic Health System. “To put it in simple terms, they look like they’ve been hit by a bus. They’re very achy and tired. They complain of headaches, sore throat, body aches, joint aches, and they often times have high fevers and a cough.”

Usually, catching the flu results in about a week or two of feeling off, missing some work, and taking it easy for a couple of days — though it could be much worse if things become severe. Unfortunately, there is a terrifying flu going around that could soon turn into a pandemic.

The Atlantic reports that H7N9 is at the top of the CDC’s Most Wanted list for flu viruses.

The CDC evaluates every disease and gives them two scores out of 10 to reflect how likely they are to trigger a worldwide pandemic and how catastrophic it would be. The H7N9 virus scored a 6.5 for emergence and a 7.5 for potential impact.

The H7 virus affects birds and has been shown to very rarely impact humans, but this could still lead to severe health concerns.

“This is very difficult to assess because we only see the more severe infections who present to hospitals,” said Malik Peiris of the University of Hong Kong. “This is an issue that needs to be closely monitored in the upcoming winter season.”

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