First Human to Human Transmission of H7N9 Bird Flu Confirmed in China

The H7N9 virus has been considered the most lethal of viruses in recent years. Image by the CDC.

The H7N9 virus has been considered the most lethal of viruses in recent years. Image by the CDC.

Influenza A (H7N9) is a subgroup of influenza viruses that normally only occur in birds; however, there have been cases of humans who have had close contact with sick poultry contracting the virus.

Passing the virus from one human to another human (called human to human transmission) hasn’t occurred until now – researchers have suggested that a father in China passed the virus onto his daughter.

The World Health Organization (WHO) keeps tract of confirmed cases and at last count on May 30, 2013 there were a total of 132 cases and 37 deaths.

In May there were only three new cases, which is a dramatic decrease from April when there were 87 new cases and three deaths. In March when the daughter and father became ill, the WHO reported 30 cases and 12 deaths.

H7N9 Bird Flu Between Humans: First Possible Case

The first possible case of one person contracting the H7N9 virus from another person has been reported in the eastern Chinese city of Wuxi. Researchers believe that a 32 year old woman contracted the H7N9 virus from her father.

The woman was looking after her father while he was in the hospital this past March. According to the study, “Probable person to person transmission of novel avian influenza A (H7N9) virus in Eastern China, 2013: epidemiological investigation” that was published in the British Medical Journal on August 6, 2013, the woman had no contact with poultry; however her father did.

The father became ill five to six days after his last exposure to poultry. His daughter, the 32 year old woman became sick after being at his bedside without protection, but she did not have contact with poultry. She became ill after six days after her last contact with her father. Both the father and daughter died from H7N9.

Analysis of the viruses showed that both viruses were almost genetically identical. There were 43 other people that also had close contact with the woman and father, but only one had mild symptoms and even then did not test positive for H7N9.

The other 42 contacts also tested negative.

Click to Read Page Two: Protect Yourself from the Bird Flu

© Copyright 2013 Janelle Vaesa, MPH, All rights Reserved. Written For: Decoded Science
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