Since February 2013, a novel avian influenza virus, A (H7N9), has infected more than 130 individuals in the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan. At least 44 of these infected individuals have died. In a current article in the journal Respiratory Care, Chinese medical specialists report on the case-patient details of the first officially confirmed case from March 2013. Even with treatment, The 87-year-old man died a few days after admission to the hospital on March 4, 2013.
The authors state
. . . we identified the world’s first human case of avian influenza A H7N9 virus infection. When we first admitted this patient, there were no health care guidelines that we could follow. Even in the absence of a definite diagnosis of influenza infection, we actively carried out isolation protection in accordance with the standard hospital infection-protection protocols while closely coordinating the activities of different departments and ensuring the protection of the medical supplies. In addition, we organized the training for respiratory infectious disease protection in the nursing department. We believe that first-line health care providers should be highly aware of the appropriate infection-prevention measures before determining whether the pathogen has the capability for human-to-human transmission.
This individual is a member of a family cluster identified as the Shanghai Family Cluster. The two sons of this man were retrospectively reported as a confirmed and suspected case. Based on the onset dates, the son who died on February 28th may have been the index case in this cluster.
Each novel disease outbreak starts with an officially confirmed initial case. If A(H7N9) becomes a pandemic virus, the article in Respiratory Care will be one of the first footnotes in a future history of such a pandemic.