Skip to main content

Study finds evidence of first human-to-human transmission of H7N9 bird flu

By Jethro Mullen, CNN
updated 7:06 AM EDT, Wed August 7, 2013
Chickens are seen at a poultry farm on April 18, 2013 in Liaocheng, China.
Chickens are seen at a poultry farm on April 18, 2013 in Liaocheng, China.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The H7N9 bird flu outbreak in China killed at least 43 people this year
  • Until now, it was thought that all the infections came from birds
  • But a new study says a woman in China probably caught it from her father
  • It says the limited case shows the virus has "potential for pandemic spread"

(CNN) -- Until this week, no cases of human-to-human transmission of the deadly bird flu virus that broke out in China this year had been reported.

But now, researchers say they believe a woman in the eastern Chinese city of Wuxi probably caught the H7N9 virus from her father.

The woman, 32, most likely became infected when she was looking after her father at his bedside in the hospital in March, according to a study published Tuesday in the British Medical Journal. Both patients eventually died.

The woman had no known exposure to poultry, the study said.

Virologist: Bird flu 'cause for concern'
WHO: Bird flu outbreak especially lethal

"Our findings reinforced that the novel virus possesses the potential for pandemic spread," the study's authors wrote.

But in the case they studied, they said "the transmissibility was limited and non-sustainable."

In April, the World Health Organization warned the H7N9 virus was "one of the most lethal" that doctors and medical investigators had faced in recent years.

The virus has caused 132 human infections resulting in 43 deaths since February, Chinese state media reported last month.

The rate of infections seen earlier this year has dropped off dramatically.

Bird flu puts spotlight on age-old traditions in China

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:51 AM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
David McKenzie meets some American teenagers who are spending a year in China to be fully immersed in the culture.
updated 9:59 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
Chinese students show a handmade red ribbon one day ahead of the the World AIDS Day, at a school in Hanshan, east China's Anhui province on November 30, 2009.
The Chinese government pledges to protect a boy with HIV, who was shunned by his entire village in Sichuan, state media reported.
updated 6:44 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
A Chinese couple allegedly threw hot water on a flight attendant and threatened to blow up the plane.
updated 12:03 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
China's 1.3 billion citizens may soon find it much harder to belt out their national anthem at will.
updated 7:21 PM EST, Tue December 9, 2014
Los Angeles in the last century went through its own smog crisis. The city's mayor says LA's experience delivers valuable lessons for Beijing.
updated 12:42 AM EST, Sat December 6, 2014
At the height of his power, security chief Zhou Yongkang controlled China's police, spy agencies and courts. Now, he's under arrest.
updated 3:26 AM EST, Fri December 5, 2014
China says it will end organ transplants from executed prisoners but tradition means that donors are unlikely to make up the shortfall.
updated 1:48 AM EST, Fri December 5, 2014
China's skylines could look a lot more uniform in the years to come, if a statement by a top Beijing official is to believed.
updated 3:55 AM EST, Wed December 3, 2014
Despite a high-profile anti-corruption drive, China's position on an international corruption index has deteriorated in the past year.
updated 7:01 AM EST, Wed November 26, 2014
A daring cross-border raid by one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's associates has -- so far -- yet to sour Sino-Russian relations.
updated 7:51 PM EST, Sun November 23, 2014
A 24-hour bookstore in Taipei is a popular hangout for both hipsters and bookworms.
updated 8:53 PM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
China is building an island in the South China Sea that could accommodate an airstrip, according to IHS Jane's Defence Weekly.
updated 5:57 AM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
North Korean refugees and defectors face a daunting journey to reach asylum in South Korea, with gangs of smugglers the only option.
updated 6:19 PM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
China and "probably one or two other" countries have the capacity to shut down the nation's power grid and other critical infrastructure.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT