TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2016

Report finds H7N9 not able to efficiently spread between humans

After reporting the first probable person-to-person transmission of the new avian influenza A H7N9 virus in Eastern China, scientists said the transmissibility was non-sustainable, according to a study in the British Medical Journal.

The study reported on a family cluster of two patients, a father and daughter, with H7N9 virus infection in March. The index patient, a 60-year-old man, became ill after regularly visiting a live poultry market and died of multi-organ failure on May 4. The man's healthy 32-year-old daughter became sick after providing direct and unprotected bedside care for her father and died of multi-organ failure on April 24.

The two patients contained almost genetically identical virus strains, suggesting transmission from father to daughter. All 43 close contacts of both cases tested negative for H7N9 infection.

While the authors of the study stressed that the virus has yet to gain the ability to efficiently transmit itself between humans, they said the virus could potentially develop the ability to spread.

"To our best knowledge, this is the first report of probable transmissibility of the novel virus person to person with detailed epidemiological, clinical, and virological data," the authors said. "Our findings reinforce that the novel virus possesses the potential for pandemic spread."

The authors said the infection was limited and non-sustainable which is why there was no outbreak following the two cases.