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 7:06 AM 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 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.
updated 5:39 AM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
It'd be hard to find another country that has spent as much, and as furiously, as China on giving its next generation a head start.
updated 12:32 AM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
In 1985, Meng Weina set up China's first private special needs school in the southern city of Guangzhou.
updated 3:14 PM EST, Wed November 12, 2014
Despite China's inexorable economic rise, the U.S. is still an indispensable ally, especially in Asia. No one knows this more than the Asian giant's leaders, writes Kerry Brown.
updated 10:38 PM EST, Wed November 12, 2014
For the United States and China to announce a plan reducing carbon emissions by almost a third by the year 2030 is a watershed moment for climate politics on so many fronts.
updated 3:26 PM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
China shows off its new stealth fighter jet, but did it steal the design from an American company? Brian Todd reports.
updated 8:01 PM EST, Mon November 10, 2014
Airshow China in Zhuhai provides a rare glimpse of China's military and commercial aviation hardware.
updated 8:14 AM EST, Wed November 12, 2014
A new exchange initiative aims to bridge relations between the two countries .
updated 12:51 AM EST, Tue November 11, 2014
Xi and Abe's brief summit featured all the enthusiasm of two unhappy schoolboys forced to make up after a schoolyard dust-up.
updated 8:12 PM EST, Mon November 10, 2014
Maybe you've decided to show your partner love with a new iPhone. But how about 99 of them?
updated 9:19 PM EST, Sun November 2, 2014
Can China's Muslim minority fit in? One school is at the heart of an ambitious experiment to assimilate China's Uyghurs.
updated 9:55 AM EST, Tue November 4, 2014
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is one of thousands of Americans learning Chinese.
updated 12:00 AM EST, Tue November 4, 2014
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou says he needs to maintain good economic ties with China while trying to keep Beijing's push for reunification at bay.
updated 1:28 AM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
Chinese drone-maker DJI wants to make aerial photography drones mainstream despite concerns about privacy.
updated 1:18 AM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
A top retired general confesses to taking bribes, becoming the highest-profile figure in China's military to be caught up in war on corruption.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT