(HealthDay News) – Although the daughter of a man who died from novel avian flu probably was infected by unprotected contact with the index patient, transmissibility of avian H7N9 virus currently is believed to be limited and non-sustainable, according to research published online Aug. 6 in BMJ.

Xian Qi, PhD, of the Jiangsu Province Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Nanjing, China, and colleagues conducted epidemiologic investigations of a family cluster of two patients in eastern China with avian H7N9 infection in March 2013.

The researchers found that the index patient became ill 5–6 days after his last exposure to poultry. His 32-year-old daughter, who had no known exposure to poultry, provided unprotected bedside care and became ill six days after her last contact with her father. Both patients died, and the two viral strains isolated from them were nearly genetically identical. No infection was detected among the 43 close contacts of both patients.

“While the paper by Qi and colleagues might not suggest that H7N9 is any closer to delivering the next pandemic, it does provide a timely reminder of the need to remain extremely vigilant: the threat posed by H7N9 has by no means passed,” write the authors of an accompanying editorial.

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