On a conference call with medical professionals on Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reviewed procedures for dealing with the H7N9 bird flu virus and urged American hospitals to be on the lookout for patients exhibiting flu-like symptoms who might have come into contact with the virus recently. The CDC warned that a failure to remain vigilant against the disease could potentially lead to a pandemic, such as the one that is threatening to take hold in China right now.
The public health monitoring and emergency-response agency also issued interim guidance on how to approach potential bird flu cases medically. To date, there have been no reported cases of the virus taking hold in the United States.
Not much is known about H7N9, which seems to have originated in Chinese poultry. Scientists remain uncertain whether or not the virus can spread from person-to-person contact, or what the full scope of the infections are in China. So far, there have been 92 reported cases of bird flu infections among people living in China, 17 of which have resulted in death.