The majority of influenza A (H7N9) cases reported are associated with exposure to infected poultry.
China has seen a significant increase in avian influenza A (H7N9) cases since December 2016. The European CDC (ECDC) cautions individuals traveling to China to avoid direct exposure to poultry, live poultry markets, or backyard farms.
A large proportion of recent cases are associated with exposure to infected live poultry or contaminated environments, including markets where live poultry are sold. According to the ECDC, the wave in the number of human cases is already higher compared with the last 2 waves in 2014 to 2015 and 2015 to 2016.
In areas where these cases are occurring, the influenza A (H7N9) viruses continue to be detected in poultry and their environments. Compared to prior epidemics, the cases are more geographically wide spread, with some reports occurring in rural areas.
Although the recent upsurge poses a potential threat of imported cases to Europe, the ECDC said the risk of the disease spreading among individuals in Europe remains low because the virus doesn’t appear to transmit easily from human to human.
Investigations into the virus show no support in sustained human-to-human transmission, according to the ECDC.
Individuals who have travelled to infected areas and have developed respiratory symptoms and a fever within up to 10 days after returning from the trip should consult and physician, the ECDC recommends.
“People in the EU presenting with severe respiratory or influenza-like infection and a history of travel to the affected areas in China—–with potential exposure to poultry or live bird markets––will require careful investigation, management, and infection control, according to the ECDC.
Samples forinfluenzatests should quickly be obtained and processed from patients with relevant exposure history, within 10 days preceding symptom onset.
For suspected or confirmed cases, early or presumptive treatment with neuraminidase inhibitors should be considered. Contacts of confirmed cases should be followed up on and tested. Additionally, offering postexposure prophylaxis should be considered, the ECDC reported.