Probable Human-to-Human Transmission of Avian Flu
“The first (index) patient – a 60 year old man – regularly visited a live poultry market and became ill five to six days after his last exposure to poultry. He was admitted to hospital on 11 March.
When his symptoms became worse, he was transferred to the hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU) on 15 March. He was transferred to another ICU on March 18 and died of multi-organ failure on 4 May.
The second patient, his healthy 32 year old daughter, had no known exposure to live poultry before becoming sick. However, she provided direct and unprotected bedside care for her father in the hospital before his admission to intensive care.
She developed symptoms six days after her last contact with her father and was admitted to hospital on 24 March. She was transferred to the ICU on 28 March and died of multi-organ failure on 24 April.
Two almost genetically identical virus strains were isolated from each patient, suggesting transmission from father to daughter.
Limited transmission between humans “is not surprising, and does not necessarily indicate that the virus is on course to develop sustained transmission among humans.”
Nevertheless, they point to several traits of H7N9 are of particular concern, and conclude that, while this study might not suggest that H7N9 is any closer to delivering the next pandemic, “it does provide a timely reminder of the need to remain extremely vigilant: the threat posed by H7N9 has by no means passed.”