Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Human-to-human transmission of H7N9 reported in Shandong family cluster

by Michael Woodhead
A probable case of human-to-human transmission of H7N9 avian influenza has been reported by researchers in Shandong province investigating a family cluster of the infection.
A 36-year-old man who developed the infection in April last year in Zaozhuang seems to have transmitted the H7N9 virus to his four year old son, according to Dr Liu Ti and colleagues from the Shandong Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Writing in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases, they describe the case histories of the family cluster, and conclude that the son had no exposure to poultry as a source of infection but had prolonged contact with his sick father.
The father became infected with H7N9 avian influenza in mid April, possibly from being in proximity to poultry markets, they found. He had no close contact with poultry but there were poultry farms and markets in the area where he lived, the found. The "index case" developed a severe fever and sought medical help. His son became infected seven days later, but he had no exposure to poultry as he remained at home with his sick father before the father was hospitalised with pneumonia. The son had prolonged, close contact with his father, including eating together, and he also became infected with H7N9 and was hospitalised. Both father and son eventually recovered from H7N9 infection and were later discharged from hospital.
“The infection of the index case probably resulted from contact with environmentally contaminated material. For the son, the probable infection source was from the index case during unprotected exposure, but the possibility from the environment or other sources could not be completely ruled out,” the researchers said.
“Though it is difficult to ascertain the infectious source for the two cases, the emergence of H7N9 clusters requires urgent attention because of the possibility that a change in the epidemiological character could spread more easily among people,” they concluded.

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