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Human infections with avian influenza A (H7N9) virus are associated with exposure to poultry and live poultry markets, but the evidence of person-to-person transmission remains limited. This study reports a suspected person-to-person transmission of H7N9 virus, and explores what factors influenced this transmission.
We interviewed 2 patients with H7N9 infection and their family members as well as health-care workers. Samples from the patients and environments were tested by real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction.
The index patient became ill 5 to 6 days after his last exposure to the poultry bought in the market of Weimiao town. The second patient, the sister of the index patient, who had sustained intensive and unprotected close contact with the index patient, had no exposure to poultry. This study documents that the H7N9 virus was transmitted directly from the index patient to his sister.
Our findings suggest that person-to-person transmission may be associated with sustained close contact with the patient during his onset of early stage, when the H7N9 viral shedding increases sharply.
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