Chinese officials report nosocomial bird flu transmission

Health professionals may have located the first evidence of a transmission the avian influenza A (H7N9) virus between unrelated people in a hospital in China.

Health experts maintain that this hospital acquired, or nosocomial, infection is the most likely way that the virus transmitted between the patients. Earlier confirmations of transmissions from people to people have involved families that have had similar exposures or else a shared genetic susceptibility, both of which could have contributed to the transmission of the virus.

"We should not accept nosocomial transmission, of any pathogen, in any setting," an editorial from experts in the Netherlands said. “Well-described and researched case reports, such as today's study, are vital to keep researchers focused on promoting the well-being of patients in hospitals and other health care settings, they write. We must remain alert for (re)emerging infections, including avian influenza, particularly when we still cannot tell how risks to humans will evolve. We also need to invest more in clinical, epidemiological and virological research to unravel the risks posed by sporadic human infections with any avian influenza virus.”

The first priority of the researchers is to guarantee that patients are kept safe from nosocomial transmissions.

“First and foremost, however, we should do no harm to our patients, and so should not accept nosocomial transmission, of any pathogen, in any setting,” the experts said.

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