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      A Detailed Epidemiological and Clinical Description of 6 Human Cases of Avian-Origin Influenza A (H7N9) Virus Infection in Shanghai

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          The world’s first reported patient infected with avian influenza H7N9 was treated at the Fifth People’s Hospital of Shanghai. Shortly thereafter, several other cases emerged in the local area. Here, we describe the detailed epidemiological and clinical data of 6 cases of avian influenza H7N9.

          Methods and Findings

          We analyzed the epidemiologic and clinical data from clustered patients infected with H7N9 in the Minhang District of Shanghai during a 2-week period. Of the 6 patients, 2 were from a single family. In addition, 3 patients had a history of contact with poultry; however, all 6 patients lived in the proximity of 2 food markets where the H7N9 virus was detected in chickens and pigeons. The main symptoms were fever, cough, and hemoptysis. At onset, a decreased lymphocyte count and elevated creatine kinase, lactate dehydrogenase, procalcitonin, and C-reactive protein levels were observed. As the disease progressed, most patients developed dyspnea and hypoxemia. Imaging studies revealed lung consolidation and multiple ground-glass opacities in the early stage, rapidly extending bilaterally. All patients were treated with oseltamivir tablets beginning on days 3–8 after onset. The main complications were as follows: acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS; 83.3%), secondary bacterial infection (66.7%), pleural effusion (50%), left ventricular failure (33.3%), neuropsychiatric symptoms (33.3%), and rhabdomyolysis (16.7%). Of the 6 patients, 4 died of ARDS, with 2 patients recovering from the infection.


          An outbreak of H7N9 infection occurred in the Minhang District of Shanghai that easily progressed to acute respiratory distress syndrome. Two cases showed family aggregation, which led us to identify the H7N9 virus and indicated that human transmission may be involved in the spread of this infection.

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          Human infection with a novel avian-origin influenza A (H7N9) virus.

          Infection of poultry with influenza A subtype H7 viruses occurs worldwide, but the introduction of this subtype to humans in Asia has not been observed previously. In March 2013, three urban residents of Shanghai or Anhui, China, presented with rapidly progressing lower respiratory tract infections and were found to be infected with a novel reassortant avian-origin influenza A (H7N9) virus. We obtained and analyzed clinical, epidemiologic, and virologic data from these patients. Respiratory specimens were tested for influenza and other respiratory viruses by means of real-time reverse-transcriptase-polymerase-chain-reaction assays, viral culturing, and sequence analyses. A novel reassortant avian-origin influenza A (H7N9) virus was isolated from respiratory specimens obtained from all three patients and was identified as H7N9. Sequencing analyses revealed that all the genes from these three viruses were of avian origin, with six internal genes from avian influenza A (H9N2) viruses. Substitution Q226L (H3 numbering) at the 210-loop in the hemagglutinin (HA) gene was found in the A/Anhui/1/2013 and A/Shanghai/2/2013 virus but not in the A/Shanghai/1/2013 virus. A T160A mutation was identified at the 150-loop in the HA gene of all three viruses. A deletion of five amino acids in the neuraminidase (NA) stalk region was found in all three viruses. All three patients presented with fever, cough, and dyspnea. Two of the patients had a history of recent exposure to poultry. Chest radiography revealed diffuse opacities and consolidation. Complications included acute respiratory distress syndrome and multiorgan failure. All three patients died. Novel reassortant H7N9 viruses were associated with severe and fatal respiratory disease in three patients. (Funded by the National Basic Research Program of China and others.).
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            Avian influenza A virus (H7N7) associated with human conjunctivitis and a fatal case of acute respiratory distress syndrome.

            Highly pathogenic avian influenza A viruses of subtypes H5 and H7 are the causative agents of fowl plague in poultry. Influenza A viruses of subtype H5N1 also caused severe respiratory disease in humans in Hong Kong in 1997 and 2003, including at least seven fatal cases, posing a serious human pandemic threat. Between the end of February and the end of May 2003, a fowl plague outbreak occurred in The Netherlands. A highly pathogenic avian influenza A virus of subtype H7N7, closely related to low pathogenic virus isolates obtained from wild ducks, was isolated from chickens. The same virus was detected subsequently in 86 humans who handled affected poultry and in three of their family members. Of these 89 patients, 78 presented with conjunctivitis, 5 presented with conjunctivitis and influenza-like illness, 2 presented with influenza-like illness, and 4 did not fit the case definitions. Influenza-like illnesses were generally mild, but a fatal case of pneumonia in combination with acute respiratory distress syndrome occurred also. Most virus isolates obtained from humans, including probable secondary cases, had not accumulated significant mutations. However, the virus isolated from the fatal case displayed 14 amino acid substitutions, some of which may be associated with enhanced disease in this case. Because H7N7 viruses have caused disease in mammals, including horses, seals, and humans, on several occasions in the past, they may be unusual in their zoonotic potential and, thus, form a pandemic threat to humans.
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              Probable person-to-person transmission of avian influenza A (H5N1).

              During 2004, a highly pathogenic avian influenza A (H5N1) virus caused poultry disease in eight Asian countries and infected at least 44 persons, killing 32; most of these persons had had close contact with poultry. No evidence of efficient person-to-person transmission has yet been reported. We investigated possible person-to-person transmission in a family cluster of the disease in Thailand. For each of the three involved patients, we reviewed the circumstances and timing of exposures to poultry and to other ill persons. Field teams isolated and treated the surviving patient, instituted active surveillance for disease and prophylaxis among exposed contacts, and culled the remaining poultry surrounding the affected village. Specimens from family members were tested by viral culture, microneutralization serologic analysis, immunohistochemical assay, reverse-transcriptase-polymerase-chain-reaction (RT-PCR) analysis, and genetic sequencing. The index patient became ill three to four days after her last exposure to dying household chickens. Her mother came from a distant city to care for her in the hospital, had no recognized exposure to poultry, and died from pneumonia after providing 16 to 18 hours of unprotected nursing care. The aunt also provided unprotected nursing care; she had fever five days after the mother first had fever, followed by pneumonia seven days later. Autopsy tissue from the mother and nasopharyngeal and throat swabs from the aunt were positive for influenza A (H5N1) by RT-PCR. No additional chains of transmission were identified, and sequencing of the viral genes identified no change in the receptor-binding site of hemagglutinin or other key features of the virus. The sequences of all eight viral gene segments clustered closely with other H5N1 sequences from recent avian isolates in Thailand. Disease in the mother and aunt probably resulted from person-to-person transmission of this lethal avian influenzavirus during unprotected exposure to the critically ill index patient. Copyright 2005 Massachusetts Medical Society.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                15 October 2013
                : 8
                : 10
                [1 ] The Fifth People's Hospital of Shanghai, Fudan University, Shanghai, China
                [2 ]Department of Pathogen Diagnosis and Biosafety, Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center, Shanghai, China
                [3 ]Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Zhongshan Hospital, Fudan University, Shanghai, China
                University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: These authors have no support or funding to report.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: ZJ YG. Performed the experiments: JS JX ZH YWH YCH QH BL WH YS FL. Analyzed the data: JS YCH ZJ. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: JS JX ZH YWH YCH QH BL WH YS FL YLS CB. Wrote the manuscript: JS ZJ.


                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                This work was partially funded by the grants from the China National Mega-projects for Infectious Diseases (2012ZX10004-211), Shanghai Committee of Science and Technology (134119b1200), and the training program of young doctors foundation of Shanghai Municipal Health Bureau (2012-105). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation and revision of the manuscript.
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