This month, China confirmed two new cases of H7N9 bird flu – the first reports since August. Estimates put the total number of laboratory-confirmed human cases of H7N9 infection at 136 and the total number of deaths at 45. URMC’s Chief of Infectious Diseases John Treanor, M.D. says that no cases of H7N9 have been identified in the U.S., but the Centers for Disease Control is still following the situation closely and taking precautionary action, developing a vaccine candidate in case it is needed in the face of a pandemic.
Treanor, who heads the University’s Vaccine Research Unit and has helped lead the nation’s response to several infectious threats, is testing this live-virus vaccine candidate in an isolation-style study this fall. The project will test two different schedules of nasal vaccine and boosters, hoping to shed light on which approach does a better job priming the immune system against H7N9. The research is funded by the National Institutes of Health, using experimental vaccines manufactured by MedImmune (makers of seasonal FluMist®) and Sanofi.