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September 30, 2014

New bird flu flying under radar in Minnesota for now

Two weeks after a Minnesota Department of Health warning about a new bird flu in China, local doctors still have not confirmed an instance of H7N9 in the state.

But that doesn’t mean they’re not on the case. The Star Tribune reports that the April 5  alert “has already resulted in doctors finding a couple of patients who fit the profile and submitting lab samples to the state for testing.”

While Minnesota–and the United States, for that matter–remains unscathed, health officials are still monitoring the stain of influenza, which has killed 17 in China, Forbes reports.

“This is a new strain for the human population,” Kris Ehresmann, who directs the Health Department’s influenza vaccination programs, tells the Strib. “That’s a concern.”

While it’s still not clear how the virus is being transmitted, the World Health Organization reports 91 cases so far, and at least half of those people have had no contact with poultry, according to Forbes. That has health officials speculating that H7N9 is spread from human to human as well.

Ehresmann also tells the Star Tribune that her department is notifying doctors on what precautions to take should they come across a patient infected. “It’s time to dust off your plans from H1N1,” she said.