First probable case of person-to-person transmission of H7N9 flu reported

A case of H7N9 avian influenza A in Eastern China was recently reported to be the first case to likely be caused by a person-to-person transmission, although experts argue the virus is not highly contagious from person-to-person.

A 60-year-old man that frequented a live poultry market fell ill in early March and was hospitalized on March 11. His symptoms worsened, and after being transferred to the intensive care unit on March 15 and transferred to another ICU on March 18 he died on May 8 due to multiple organ failure.

The man's 32-year-old daughter had no known exposure to live poultry, but provided unprotected care to her father in his last days. She became ill and was hospitalized on March 24, transferred to the ICU on March 28 and died on April 24, also due to multiple organ failure.

Scientists studied the viral strain and found both patients to were infected by the same H7N9 strain. As of June 30, 133 cases of Avian flu have been reported, with 43 deceased. This was the first case to show a highly probable cause of person-to-person transmission.

Scientists are arguing, however, that the disease is not highly contagious from person-to-person, but is still a threat. In the case of suspected human transmission, 43 family members also spent time with both infected parties and showed no sign of H7N9 infection.

"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," researchers said. "Our findings reinforce that the novel virus possesses the potential for pandemic spread."