(Reuters) - New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a public health emergency on Saturday, giving pharmacists permission to administer flu vaccinations to more people as officials seek to stem the worst flu outbreak in that state in several years.
Cuomo's order came a day after federal health officials said that fast-spreading influenza had officially reached epidemic proportions in the United States, following an early start.
Nine of the 10 U.S. regions had "elevated" flu activity last week, and 20 children across the country have died, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday.
Avian Influenza Found in New York Live Bird Market; Japan and Taiwan Halt Poultry Exports from New York
On January 11, 2013, in Avian Influenza
USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories has confirmed H5N1 (presumably low pathogenic) from a live bird market in New York . . .
While quite common in other countries, many Americans may be surprised to know that there are more than 90 live bird markets in and around New York (cite Cornell University). Live markets can also be found in other states as well.
There are two broad categories of avian influenza; LPAI (Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza) and HPAI (Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza).
LPAI viruses are quite common in wild birds, cause little illness, and only rarely death. They are not considered to be a serious health to public health. The concern is (particularly with H5 & H7 strains) that LPAI viruses have the potential to mutate into HPAI strains.
HPAI viruses are more dangerous, can produce high morbidity and mortality in wild birds and poultry, and can sometimes infect humans with serious result. The type of bird flu scientists have been watching closely for the past decade has been HPAI H5N1 (and to a lesser extent HPAI H7s & H9s).