China’s H7N9 Bird Flu Spreading Between People

There is evidence that China’s H7N9 bird flu is spreading from human to human. The British Medical Journal reported the news that a 32-year-old woman was infected with the deadly disease while caring for her father, who also had it. Both have since died.

The H7N9 virus is deadly and the health community has worried that it could make the jump from bird-human transfer to human-human transfer.

But until now, there has been no evidence of human-to-human transmission, notes the BBC. And experts were quick to stress that the case doesn’t mean the virus can spread easily between humans.

Most of China’s 133 cases visited live poultry markets or had close contact with live poultry shortly before they became sick. But researchers found that the 32-year-old woman did not.

Instead, she became ill after caring for her 60-year-old father in the hospital in March. She had no known exposure to live poultry, but still contracted H7N9 six days after she last had contact with him.

But while the case is the first confirmed H7N9 bird flu transmission between humans, scientists stressed that the virus hasn’t gained the ability to transmit efficiently — at least for now.

That means that, in its current form, there is very low risk of a human pandemic, notes NBC News. The new bird flu virus was first discovered in February, but has a high mortality rate.

In analyzing the strains of both viruses in the father and daughter who died from H7N9, the scientists found an almost identical genetic code.

Because of this, the researchers believe the virus was transmitted from father to daughter. While the wider implications of the find are not yet known, it is likely that doctors and hospitals will be more strict about visitations for H7N9 patients.

The study also raises the level of concern about the H7N9 virus and its possible future as the source of a human pandemic. Does the latest news on China’s bird flu strain concern you?

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