Influenza A(H7N9) is one of a subgroup of influenza viruses that normally circulate among birds. Until recently, this virus had not been seen in people. However, human infections have now been detected. As yet, there is limited information about the scope of the disease the virus causes and about the source of exposure. The disease is of concern because most patients have been severely ill. There is no indication thus far that it can be transmitted between people, but both animal-to-human and human-to-human routes of transmission are being actively investigated.
(1) Human infections with a new avian influenza A (H7N9) virus were first reported in China in March 2013. Most of these infections are believed to result from exposure to infected poultry or contaminated environments. While some mild illnesses in human H7N9 cases have been seen, most patients have had severe respiratory illness, with about one-third resulting in death. No evidence of sustained person-to-person spread of H7N9 has been found, though some evidence points to limited person-to-person spread in rare circumstances.
(2) At this time, the risk of getting sick from H7N9 in the United States is low. CDC does not have any new or special recommendations for the U.S. public associated with H7N9, known scientifically as avian influenza A (H7N9). But the emergence of this new H7N9 bird flu virus as a cause of severe illness and death in people raises some serious public health concerns everywhere.
(3) Infection Control: Clinicians should be aware of appropriate infection control guidelines for patients under investigation for infection with novel influenza A viruses. Because it has been shown to cause severe respiratory illness in cases identified so far, healthcare personnel (HCP) caring for patients under investigation for novel influenza A (H7N9) virus infection should adhere to Standard Precautions plus Droplet, Contact, and Airborne Precautions, including eye protection, until more is known about the transmission characteristics of the A (H7N9) virus.
Since H7N9 is not spreading easily from person to person at this time, CDC does not recommend that people delay or cancel trips to China. CDC advises travelers to China to take the following precautions:
(1) Continue to monitor CDC Travel Advisory Site
(2) Do not touch birds, pigs or other animals.
(3) Only eat food that is fully cooked.
(4) Practice hygiene and cleanliness.
(5) See a doctor if you become sick during or after your trip to China.
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