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 1:13 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Chinese are turning to overseas personal shoppers to get their hands on luxury goods at lower prices.
updated 5:08 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Experts say rapidly rising numbers of Christians are making it harder for authorities to control the religion's spread.
updated 12:52 AM EDT, Mon August 11, 2014
"I'm proud of their moral standing," says Harvey Humphrey. His parents are accused of corporate crimes in China.
updated 3:42 PM EDT, Wed August 6, 2014
A TV confession detailing a life of illegal gambling and paid-for sex has capped the dramatic fall of one of China's most high-profile social media celebrities.
updated 12:10 AM EDT, Thu July 31, 2014
President Xi Jinping's campaign to punish corrupt Chinese officials has snared its biggest target -- where can the campaign go from here?
updated 3:12 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
All you need to know about the tainted meat produce that affects fast food restaurants across China, Hong Kong, and Japan.
updated 10:30 PM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Some savvy individuals in China are claiming naming rights to valuable foreign brands. Here's how companies can combat them.
updated 5:11 AM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Is the Chinese president a true reformist or merely a "dictator" in disguise? CNN's Beijing bureau chief Jaime FlorCruz dissects the leader's policies
updated 11:44 PM EDT, Mon July 7, 2014
With a population of 1.3 billion, you'd think that there would be 11 people in China who are good enough to put up a fight on the football pitch.
updated 2:31 AM EDT, Fri July 4, 2014
26-year-old Ji Cheng is the first rider from China to compete for competitive cycling's highest honor.
updated 7:24 AM EDT, Mon July 7, 2014
China's richest man, Wang Jianlin, may not yet be a household name outside of China, but that could be about to change.
updated 7:57 PM EDT, Thu July 3, 2014
When President Xi Jinping arrives in Seoul this week, the Chinese leader will have passed over North Korea in favor of its arch rival.
updated 2:56 AM EDT, Tue July 1, 2014
The push for democratic reform in Hong Kong is testing China's "one country, two systems" model.
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
Along a winding Chinese mountain road dotted with inns and restaurants is Jinan Orphanage, a place of refuge and site for troubled parents to dump unwanted children.
updated 4:36 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
CNN's Kristie Lu Stout invites Isaac Mao, Han Dongfang, and James Miles to discuss the rise of civil society in China and social media's crucial role.
updated 11:34 PM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
Chen Guangbiao wants rich people to give more to charity and he'll do anything to get their attention, including buying lunch for poor New Yorkers.
updated 7:44 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
Architects are planning to build the future world's tallest towers in China. They're going to come in pretty colors.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT