Thursday, April 4, 2013

FUK-U-SHIMA: Japan's Nuclear Disaster Spreads Far And Wide - 28% Increase In Thyroid Problems In Babies Born After Fukushima in Alaska, Washington, California, Hawaii, And Oregon; Arnie Gundersen Says That The Death Toll From Fukushima Disaster To Be 1,000 Times Greater Than IAEA Estimate!

April 04, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Fallout from that Fukushima meltdown thing a couple years back? It’s not just the Japanese who are suffering, though their plight is obviously the worst. Radioactive isotopes blasted from the failed reactors may have given kids born in Hawaii and along the American West Coast health disorders which, if left untreated, can lead to permanent mental and physical handicaps.

Fukushima Meltdown Appears To Have Sickened American Infants.
Children born in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington between one week and 16 weeks after the meltdowns began in March 2011 were 28 percent more likely to suffer from congenital hypothyroidism than were kids born in those states during the same period one year earlier, a new study shows. In the rest of the U.S. during that period in 2011, where radioactive fallout was less severe, the risks actually decreased slightly compared with the year before.

Substantial quantities of the radioisotope iodine-131 were produced by the meltdowns, then wafted over the Pacific Ocean and fell over Hawaii, the American West Coast, and other Pacific countries in rain and snow, reaching levels hundreds of times greater than those considered safe. After entering our bodies, radioactive iodine gathers in our thyroids. Thyroids are glands that release hormones that control how we grow. In babies, including those not yet born, such radiation can stunt the development of body and brain. The condition is known as congenital hypothyroidism. It is treatable when detected early.

“Fukushima fallout appeared to affect all areas of the U.S., and was especially large in some, mostly in the western part of the nation,” wrote researchers with the Radiation and Public Health Project in their peer-reviewed paper published in Open Journal of Pediatrics. The links between iodine radioisotope exposure and juvenile hypothyroidism were established after the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown. The authors of this new paper suspect that the spike in Pacific Coast cases in 2011 was linked to the Fukushima accident, but they warn that further analysis is needed “to better understand any association between iodine exposure from Fukushima-Dai-ichi and congenital hypothyroidism risk.”

Their findings may be only a tip of an epidemiological iceberg. “Congenital hypothyroidism can be used as one measure to assess any potential changes in U.S. fetal and infant health status after Fukushima because official data was available relatively promptly,” the researchers wrote. “However, health departments will soon have available for other 2010 and 2011 indicators of fetal/infant health, including fetal deaths, premature births, low weight births, neonatal deaths, infant deaths, and birth defects.”  So stay tuned. Two years and one month after the meltdown, we’re only just beginning to understand how the nuclear catastrophe affected the health of people living around the vast Pacific Ocean. - Grist.

Study: 28% Increase In Thyroid Problems In Babies Born After Fukushima in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon And Washington.
A boy receives a radiation scan at a screening center in Koriyama in Fukushima prefecture
(AFP Photo / Go Takayama)

Infants are much more vulnerable to radiation than adults. And see this. However, radiation safety standards are set based on the assumption that everyone in the world is a healthy man in his 20s. Now, a medical doctor (Janette D. Sherman, M. D.) and epidemiologist (Joseph Mangano) have released a study showing a 28% increase in thyroid problems in babies born in Hawaii and America’s West Coast after the Fukushima nuclear accident.

Janette Sherman, M.D. worked for the Atomic Energy Commission (forerunner of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission) at the University of California in Berkeley, and for the U.S. Navy Radiation Defense Laboratory in San Francisco. She served on the EPA’s advisory board for 6 years, and has been an advisor to the National Cancer Institute on breast cancer. Dr. Sherman specializes in internal medicine and toxicology with an emphasis on chemicals and nuclear radiation.

Joseph J. Mangano
is a public health administrator and researcher who has studied the connection between low-dose radiation exposure and subsequent risk of diseases such as cancer and damage to newborns. He has published numerous articles and letters in medical and other journals in addition to books, including Low Level Radiation and Immune System Disorders: An Atomic Era Legacy. Their new study – published in the Open Journal of Pediatrics – is entitled “Elevated airborne beta levels in Pacific/West Coast US States and trends in hypothyroidism among newborns after the Fukushima nuclear meltdown.”
Common Dreams notes:
[The study found that] children born in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington between one week and 16 weeks after the meltdown began are 28 percent more likely to suffer from congenital hypothyroidism (CH) than were kids born in those states during the same period one year earlier. CH results from a build up of radioactive iodine in our thyroids and can result in stunted growth, lowered intelligence, deafness, and neurological abnormalities—though can be treated if detected early.

According to researchers from the Radiation and Public Health Project who performed the study, “Fukushima fallout appeared to affect all areas of the US, and was especially large in some, mostly in the western part of the nation.” They add that CH can provide an early measure to “assess any potential changes in US fetal and infant health status after Fukushima because official data was available relatively promptly.”
Health researcher Joe Mangano similarly cautioned, “Reports of rising numbers of West Coast infants with under-active thyroid glands after Fukushima suggest that Americans may have been harmed by Fukushima fallout. Studies, especially of the youngest, must proceed immediately.” Earlier this year, the Fukushima Prefecture Health Management Survey found that more than 40 percent of the Japanese children studied showed evidence of thyroid abnormalities, which Wasserman says signifies a “horrifying plague.”
Sherman and Mangano published an essay in June 2011 claiming that  the 35% spike in infant mortality in Northwest cities since the Fukushima meltdown might have been caused by radiation. And they published a study in December 2011 in the peer-reviewed journal International Journal of Health Services, alleging that 14,000 people had already died in the United States due to Fukushima.   A Scientific American blog post and Med Page Today slammed the study as being voodoo science. However, Scientific American does admit:
Certainly radiation from Fukushima is dangerous, and could very well lead to negative health effects—even across the Pacific.
- Washington's Blog.

WATCH: Fukushima children with thyroid cysts and nodules.

Arnie Gundersen Says That The Death Toll From Fukushima Disaster To Be 1,000 Times Greater Than IAEA Estimate.
Arnie Gundersen, chief engineer at Fairwinds Associates, has called the new estimate that the Japanese nuclear tragedy released 20-30 times the amount of cesium that has been reported. Calling this a "game changer," he has estimated 100,000 deaths more than widely released Fukushima data.

"When there’s no liquid inside the containment, there’s no capture of the cesium. So whatever cesium was inside that containment was leaking out of the containment. […] Well that changes the game dramatically. Instead of 1% of the cesium, it’s likely that 20 or 30% of the cesium were released," Gundersen explained.
"I think my leak rate, and the amount of cesium that is in that leak rate, match up a lot better with the exposures people in Japan really got," Gundersen said.

"The IAEA says 100 people are going to die from this. I think it’s going to be a thousand times higher than that. The difference is in the assumptions. I think my assumptions are supported a lot more by the data in the field, than the IAEA’s hiding behind some old studies."

For the full pod cast, visit:

- Huntington News.

THE GREAT DELUGE: "Catastrophic" And "Historic" Floods In Argentina That Fell In Just 2 Hours - More Than 50 Dead In La Plata, Buenos Aires; Tens Of Thousands Displaced And Without Power; Over 350,000 Affected!

April 04, 2013 - ARGENTINA - Emergency workers in Argentina continue to try to rescue residents stranded by flooding in Buenos Aires and La Plata.

More than 50 people are known to have died after one of the heaviest storms recorded caused flash floods.

More than 50 people are known to have died after days of torrential rains caused heavy flooding in Argentina, local officials say. Reuters.

Thousands were evacuated from their homes and dozens are still stranded on rooftops, treetops and the roofs of city buses, local media report.

The government has declared three days of national mourning after what it called "an unprecedented catastrophe".

'Death trap'

"We've never seen anything like it," provincial governor Daniel Scioli said.

"People were taken by surprise, and some didn't have time to escape this deadly trap," Mr Scioli said, referring to the speed with which the waters rose.

Provincial officials said 40cm (16in) of rain fell on the city of La Plata in the space of two hours late on Tuesday night.

Earlier, the storm had dumped 15cm of rainfall on the capital, Buenos Aires.

Local officials said at least 48 people were killed in La Plata, six in Buenos Aires and two in its suburbs. The Red Cross said most of the victims had been elderly people who drowned in their homes.

Rescue workers said cars had turned into death traps as the flood waters rose. Reuters.

The army was deployed to help evacuate the sick and the elderly. Reuters.

The worst-hit area was La Plata, the capital of Buenos Aires province, much of which was left under water after 40cm (16in) of rain fell in the space of only two hours. Reuters.

So far, only half of the bodies have been identified and rescue workers fear the number of dead may rise as more bodies are found as the flood waters recede. Fear of looting

Firefighter Federico Langone said in some areas of La Plata, the flood waters had reached a height of 1.5m (5ft).

More than 3,000 people had to leave their homes and 80,000 still do not have electricity, with two of La Plata's hospitals also affected by the power cuts.

On Wednesday night, some of La Plata's residents set up roadblocks to "protect their neighbourhoods from looters".

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner on Wednesday visited Tolosa, the worst affected neighbourhood of La Plata, where she grew up and where her mother still lives.

Ms Fernandez acknowledged residents' fears and promised to increase security.

In Buenos Aires, where the worst of the rains had fallen overnight Monday to Tuesday, residents began clearing out furniture ruined by the floods. Reuters.

Streets were turned into rivers and those who had boats used them to rescue friends and family. Reuters.

The flooding affected the cities of Buenos Aires and La Plata, as well as large areas around them. Reuters.

Before her arrival, dozens of people had looted a supermarket. Three police officers were injured in scuffles with people trying to break into two other supermarkets.

Officials said 400 extra police officers and soldiers would be deployed to La Plata.


In Buenos Aires, where the rains had been at their worst overnight Monday to Tuesday, the floods have begun to recede and residents have started the clean-up.

Damp clothes and furniture were piled by roadsides as neighbours assessed the damage to their homes.

Mayor Mauricio Macri said about 350,000 people had been affected by the torrents of rain. Hundreds are still in shelters.

Pope Francis, an Argentine, has called on the authorities to step up their assistance to those left homeless by the storm.

The Pope sent a telegram to his newly appointed successor as Buenos Aires Archbishop, Mario Poli, saying he was praying for those who died, their families and survivors of the disaster. - BBC.

WATCH: Thousands affected by flash floods in Argentina.

EXTREME WEATHER: Major Storm Potential Next Week For Plains, West In The United States! UPDATE: National Weather Service Broadens Hurricane Warning Definition!

April 04, 2013 - UNITED STATES - A major storm is likely to impact a million square miles over the Plains and West with areas of rain, snow and severe weather next week.

As a large storm begins to spread rain across the South this week, a new and even larger storm is forecast to impact parts of the West beginning this weekend and continuing into the middle of next week with significant moisture for some very needy areas.

The pattern of chilly air in parts of the East and warmth in the West is about to flip long enough to allow a large storm to roll in from the Pacific with moisture and potentially tap Gulf of Mexico moisture.

The storm would begin to gather moisture and strength over the weekend and would reach its peak during the first part of next week.

In addition to impacting the Northwest, areas of low-elevation rain and high-elevation snow could reach building drought areas of Wyoming, Colorado, southern Montana, Utah, Nevada and southern Idaho.

There is the potential that drenching rain could even reach across parts of big drought areas of Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas next week.

Like many storms in the West, the greatly diverse terrain will play a role on enhancing the precipitation in some areas and diminishing it in others.

Where winds are blowing uphill and Gulf of Mexico moisture gets involved, such as the eastern slopes of the Rockies and parts of the High Plains, there is the potential for an inch of rain or more.

Enough cold air could arrive on the scene to make for a heavy snowfall instead of rain over portions of the Plains of Wyoming and the Nebraska Panhandle as well as the Black Hills area.

It will be cold enough for snow at pass level in California. The question is how much moisture is available for the storm this far southwest.

Significant rain and high-elevation snow could reach northern Arizona and New Mexico.

Large Severe Weather Outbreak Possible Next Week

With almost every large storm, benefits could be outweighed by problems and risks to lives and property in other locations.

Just as the storm has the potential to bring significant rainfall to needy places in the West and parts of the Plains, it could also unleash violent thunderstorms. The most likely area for this initially is portions of Texas and Oklahoma to Arkansas, much of Missouri and parts of Kansas and Louisiana.

(Flickr image of driving on I-40 in a torrential downpour by user nathanryan).

However, the potential for dangerous and damaging storms would extend farther east into Dixie and perhaps the Ohio Valley states as next week progresses.

The nature of the severe weather event (tornadoes versus straight-line winds) has yet to be determined over Texas, the southern Plains and the South.

Early on, as the storm takes shape and cooler air drives southward into the Southwest, gusty winds and widely separated thunderstorms with hail could erupt from portions of California to Nevada late in the weekend, spreading to Arizona and New Mexico early next week. - AccuWeather.

National Weather Service Broadens Hurricane Warning Definition.
The National Weather Service announced today that, starting June 1, the definitions of hurricane and tropical storm watches and warnings will be broadened. The new changes will allow watches and warnings to be issued or remain in effect after a tropical cyclone becomes post-tropical, when such a storm poses a significant threat to life and property. In addition, the National Hurricane Center will be permitted to issue advisories during the post-tropical stage. The policy changes were motivated by the special challenges posed by Hurricane Sandy, which was forecast to evolve from a hurricane to a post-tropical cyclone prior to reaching the New Jersey coast.

Post-tropical cylcone Sandy made landfall on Oct. 29, 2012 at 8:00 p.m., along the coast of southern New Jersey. Image/NASA

"Our forecasters now have more flexibility to effectively communicate the threat posed by transitioning tropical systems," Louis W. Uccellini, Ph.D., director of NOAA's National Weather Service said. "Sandy's forecast was remarkably accurate and under a similar situation in the future, forecasters will be able to choose the best option to underscore the urgency involved." This policy change was first proposed during the NOAA Hurricane Meeting in November and has since been the focus of much discussion in the meteorological and emergency management communities, in forums such as the American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting in January and the National Hurricane Conference in March.

This change is also supported by preliminary findings from NOAA's service assessment on Sandy, which will be released in May.  "I would like to thank everyone for their open and candid feedback on this proposal," Rick Knabb, Ph.D., director of NOAA's National Hurricane Center said.  "Keeping communities safe when a storm threatens is truly a team effort and this change reflects that collaboration." - AccuWeather.

WEATHER PHENOMENON: Glowing Red Arcs Over Europe - Astronomers Capture Bizarre Phenomenon Caused By Magnetic Storms For The First Time!

April 04, 2013 - EUROPE - Glowing red arcs invisible to the naked eye have been spotted high above Europe. The mysterious phenomenon has never been captured before, and are remnants of the magnetic storms that batter the Earth.

An Italian telescope was able to capture them for the first time high up in the ionosphere, which stretches from about 50 to 370 miles (85 to 600 kilometers) above the Earth.

An 'all sky image' showing a glowing red arc invisible to the naked eye, and a low elevation shot showing the same phenomenon.The arcs have now been detected high above most of Europe. The images were taken from Cima Ekar in Asiago, Italy on 26th September 2011, and is the first time the event has been seen.

An international team of scientists watched the sky with the observatory during a geomagnetic storm that struck Earth in 2011.

Using a new All-Sky Imaging Air-Glow Observatory (ASIAGO), located in northern Italy, researchers set up cameras with highly sensitive sensors and a fish-eye lens in a bid to to observe the elusive arcs.

The arcs give off a very specific wavelength of red light, but are too faint to see with the naked eye.

After comparing their observations with satellite- and ground-based observations, the researchers found that red arcs could reach all the way down to Europe, stretching from Ireland in the west to Belarus in the east.

Red arcs happen when oxygen atoms in the ionosphere emit light, after being excited by electrons heated at greater heights in Earth's magnetosphere.

The Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis at moonset near Inari, Lapland, Finland. Researchers have now captured another effect of magnetic storms, a red arc.

The fact that scientists can now see these arcs over Europe means that, in combination with similar data from the Americas and the Pacific Ocean, researchers can now see how long the arcs stretch across vast distances over the planet 'and thus how long it takes the magnetosphere to be drained of its storm-time energy,' researcher Michael Mendillo, a space physicist at Boston University, told OurAmazingPlanet.

The arcs appear at lower latitudes, unlike auroras, which typically occur over higher latitudes. - Daily Mail.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: H7N9 Virus - New Bird Flu Strain Causes Fifth Death In China, Fueling Fears Of Epidemic As Scientists Indicates That The Virus Is A Silent Unknown Threat!

April 04, 2013 - CHINA - A middle-aged man who transported poultry for a living and another unidentified person have died from a new strain of bird flu, bringing the death toll to five among 14 confirmed cases in China, the government and state media reported Thursday.

The 48-year-old man, who died in Shanghai, is one of several among the infected believed to have had direct contact with fowl. Until recently, the virus, called H7N9, was not known to infect humans.

The official Xinhua News Agency did not identify the fifth fatality, but said that person also died in Shanghai on Wednesday.

It said the Ministry of Agriculture confirmed on Thursday that the H7N9 virus had been detected in pigeons at a market selling agricultural products in Shanghai.

A worker spays disinfectant liquid on to chicken cages at a wholesale market on Thursday, April 4, 2013, in Shanghai, China. In a worrisome sign, a bird flu in China appears to have mutated so that it can spread to other animals, raising the potential for a bigger threat to people, scientists said Wednesday. (AP Photo)

It is not known how people are becoming sick with the virus, and health officials and scientists caution that there are no indications it can be transmitted from one person to another. Scientists who have studied the virus's genetic sequence said this week that the virus may have mutated, spreading more easily to other animals and potentially posing a bigger threat to humans.

Guidelines issued Wednesday by the national health agency identify butchers, breeders and sellers of poultry, and those in the meat processing industry as at higher risk.

Experts only identified the first cases on Sunday. Some among the 14 confirmed cases fell ill several weeks ago but only now are being classified as having H7N9. Xinhua said six cases have been confirmed in Shanghai, four in Jiangsu, three in Zhejiang and one in Anhui. - AP.

China Bird Flu Cases Fuel Fears Of Epidemic.
The Chinese Center for Disease Prevention and Control has set up a nationwide program to screen for the new virus among patients diagnosed with pneumonia, state media report.

The H7N9 virus, previously known only to infect birds, appears to have mutated so that it can more easily jump to animals like pigs, meaning the range of potential hosts has expanded, the Associated Press reported Wednesday, citing a World Health Organization scientist studying the virus's genetic makeup.

In marked contrast with their opaque handling of the SARS crisis 10 years ago, China authorities have produced a steady stream of information and updates on the virus since the first human cases were revealed on Sunday. That publicity effort, combined with a relatively rapid mobilization of disease-prevention resources, suggests the country has learned its lesson about handling such outbreaks, experts say.

"China revamped its procedures for the reporting and tracing of contagious diseases very significantly since the SARS epidemic," said Lester Ross, a Beijing-based attorney with U.S. law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale who works on health and food safety issues. "The results of those changes are showing up now with respect to this recently discovered bird flu."

A worker unloads a chicken from a container at a wholesale market on Wednesday in Shanghai. Associated Press

Among those changes are rules requiring more rapid reporting of potentially dangerous diseases and stricter punishments for officials found suppressing disease-related information.

China was notoriously slow to acknowledge SARS, announcing an outbreak of what it described at the time as "atypical pneumonia" in Guangdong province three months after the first infection is believed to have occurred. It also initially refused offers of help from the WHO.

Even though China may be embarrassed to have a disease break out within its borders, Mr. Ross said it has realized that "the consequences are far worse if they do not recognize the need to disclose and to cooperate with the WTO and other organizations to diagnose and control the outbreak as quickly as possible."

Xinhua struck a similar tone in a commentary on Wednesday, saying that "it is not necessarily the diseases themselves that have stoked fear, but the way the government has handled them."

Despite the improvements, reaction on Chinese social media sites was largely skeptical, with many users of the Twitter-like microblogging service Sina Weibo casting doubt on whether the government was being transparent about the new virus.

"These past 10 years the government claims it has invested massively in controlling infectious diseases. Supposedly the hardware, software and personnel have all made great strides. But how effective has it been?" wrote one microblogger. "Can they stand up to the test of H7N9? Let's wait and see."

Doubters have pointed to a more than 3½-week lag between when the first H7N9 patient died and the government first announced the virus had jumped to humans. Others have noted that authorities in Jiangsu didn't publicize the cases there until after a hospital record purporting to document a local H7N9 infection was posted on Sina Weibo.

Shanghai's municipal government addressed the time lag during a news conference on Tuesday, saying the identification of new diseases takes time. Multiple calls to the Jiangsu provincial health department rang unanswered Wednesday.

Even while praising the relatively quick response so far, Mr. Ross warned that some parts of China's disease-prevention infrastructure could still stand to be improved. "Shanghai operates at a much higher level than other parts of the country," he said. "It's reasonable to assume that the reporting system is not as robust in other parts of the country." - WSJ.

Scientists Indicates That China Bird Flu Virus Is A Silent Threat.
The scientists, at several research institutes around the world, said the H7N9 virus seems troubling because it can generate no symptoms in poultry while seriously sickening humans. They said the virus, previously known to have infected only birds, appears to have mutated, enabling it to more easily infect other animals, including pigs, which could serve as hosts spreading the virus more widely among humans.

The findings are preliminary and need further testing. In the meantime, the scientists are urging Chinese veterinary authorities to widely test animals and healthy birds in affected regions to detect and eliminate the virus before it becomes widespread.

In addition to causing four deaths in Shanghai, the virus also seriously sickened several other persons in two eastern provinces in the strain's first known infections of humans. Those regions stepped up measures this week to guard against the spread of the disease, calling on hospitals to report severe pneumonia cases with unknown causes and schools to monitor for fevers.

In the wake of the outbreak, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention shared the genetic sequence of the new virus with the global health community. The data allow scientists to make preliminary interpretations of how the virus might behave in different animals and situations. Such hypotheses, while not conclusive, can help provide important early warnings to authorities dealing with the disease.

The scientists said that based on information from the genetic data and Chinese lab testing, the H7N9 virus appears to infect some birds without causing any noticeable symptoms. Without obvious outbreaks of dying chickens or birds to focus efforts on, authorities could face a challenge in trying to trace the source of the infection and stop the spread.

"We speculate that when this virus is maintained in poultry the disease will not appear, and similar in pigs, if they are infected, so nobody recognizes the infection in animals around them, then the transmission from animal to human may occur," said Dr. Masato Tashiro, director of the World Health Organization's influenza research center in Tokyo and one of the specialists who studied the genetic data. "In terms of this phenomenon, it's more problematic."

This behavior is unlike the virus's more established relative, the virulent H5N1 strain, which set off warnings when it began ravaging poultry across Asia in 2003. H5N1 has since killed 360 people worldwide, mostly after close contact with infected birds.

"In that sense, if this continues to spread throughout China and beyond China, it would be an even bigger problem than with H5N1 in some sense, because with H5N1 you can see evidence of poultry dying, but here you can see this would be more or less a silent virus in poultry species that will occasionally infect humans," said University of Hong Kong microbiologist Malik Peiris, who also examined the information.

Scientists closely monitor bird flu viruses, fearing they may change and become easier to spread among humans, possibly sparking a pandemic. There's no evidence of that happening in China.

Peiris praised Chinese health authorities for being forthcoming with data and information, but said animal health agencies needed to step up and act quickly. He urged China to widely test healthy birds in live animal markets in the parts of the country where the human infections have been reported to find out what bird species might be hosting the virus and stop the spread.

"If you don't stamp it out earlier now, there won't be any chance of stamping it out in the future," Peiris said. "It already may be too late, but this is the small window of opportunity that really one has to grasp, as quickly as possible."

The Agriculture Ministry's propaganda office could not be reached by phone and did not immediately respond to a faxed list of questions.

Other information gleaned from the genetic data was that the H7N9 virus was what scientists call a "gene re-assortant" — in which three bird viruses swapped genes among themselves — undergoing changes that allowed it to adapt more easily, though not fully, to human hosts, WHO's Tashiro said. One change has allowed it to lodge onto the surfaces of cells of mammals, making it easier to infect humans.

"The tentative assessment of this virus is that it may cause human infection or epidemic. It is still not yet adapted to humans completely, but important factors have already changed," Tashiro said.

In China, the public is highly sensitized to news of infectious disease outbreaks, with many still recalling the SARS pneumonia scare a decade ago, when the government stayed silent while rumors circulated for weeks of an unidentified disease in southern Guangdong province. The cover-up contributed to the spread of the virus to many parts of China and to two dozen other countries, killing hundreds of people.

While many foreign health experts say China is being far more forthcoming this time than during the SARS scare, the government still faces credibility questions at home as it tries to juggle the need to respond to calls by the public for more information and the need to prevent unnecessary panic.

"The H7N9 bird flu is currently approaching. Ten years ago, the lesson learned in fighting SARS was: The greatest enemy is not the virus, but covering up the truth; the best medicine is not steroids, but transparency and trust," Yang Yu, a commentator with state broadcaster CCTV, said in a post on his microblog. "No matter what H7N9 is, now, the time to test the progress of Chinese society over the past 10 years has come." - Guardian.

WATCH: Public health scientist Michael Osterholm discuss the implications of the new bird flu strain.