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Should the H7N9 Bird Flu Frighten Us?

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China announced a sixth death from a new bird flu strain Friday, while authorities in Shanghai halted the sale of live fowl and slaughtered all poultry at a market where the virus was detected in pigeons being sold for meat. (Associated press)

ME: Pigeons? 

Without a doubt, pigeons carry human pathogens. A study from the University of Basel in Switzerland identified 60 different microorganisms associated with feral pigeons that were capable of causing human disease. Fungi accounted for the majority of microorganisms with 45 represented, 9 were bacteria, 5 were viruses, and one was a protozoan. (TECHLETTER.COM)

ME: So pigeon viruses are rare, but fungi are common? Wait, what was the name of that common pigeon dropping fungal disease? 

A fungus that thrives in the pigeon droppings causes histoplasmosis, but a person would need to inhale quite a lot of the fungus for it to actually cause an infection. Once a person is exposed, they might develop symptoms about 10 days later. The symptoms could include flu-like signs like fever, fatigue and perhaps chest pains.

ME: So what symptoms are they seeing in this new H7N9 Virus?

Symptoms of H7N9 tend to be “flu like symptoms” (, fever, fatigue ( and chest pains ( 

ME: Another “bird flu epidemic”, or is this nothing but pigeon poop?


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