Thursday, September 26, 2013

Memorializing the First Confirmed Case of A(H7N9)

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.[1]  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.[2]   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.

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