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[Comment] Novel influenza A viruses and pandemic threats

A surge in human infections caused by avian influenza A H7N9 virus in China has prompted pandemic concerns and has focused attention on novel influenza A viruses.1 Since 2013, more than 1400 human beings infected with avian influenza A H7N9 virus, resulting from poultry exposures, have been reported during winter–spring epidemics in China.2–4 Low pathogenicity avian influenza (LPAI) A H7N9 viruses have spread silently among asymptomatically infected poultry in bird markets and farms. Avian influenza A H7N9 virus infection of human beings can cause severe illness, with high mortality (about 40%) in hospital inpatients.