Influenza A(H7N9) virus continues to be detected in poultry in China. A steep increase of human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) has been
reported since the beginning of December 2016. During this
wave, the number of human cases is already higher than during the last
two waves in 2014-15 and 2015-16.
The majority of recently reported
human cases are associated with exposure to infected live poultry or
contaminated environments, including markets where live poultry are
sold. The human cases are more geographically widespread and cases
are also reported from rural areas, unlike in previous epidemics.
‘At present, the most immediate threat to European Union citizens is to those visiting influenza A(H7N9)-affected areas in China, concludes the updated rapid risk assessment by the European Center for Disease Control.’
At present, the most immediate threat to European Union (EU) citizens is to those
living or visiting influenza A(H7N9)-affected areas in China concludes
the updated rapid risk assessment by the European Center for Disease
Control (ECDC). Caution should be taken by people traveling to China to
avoid direct exposure to poultry, live poultry markets or backyard
The recent upsurge of human cases indicates the possibility of
imported cases to Europe. However, the risk of the disease spreading
within Europe between humans remains low as the virus does not appear to
transmit easily from human to human: investigations do not support
sustained human-to-human transmission.
Travelers that visited affected areas and develop respiratory
symptoms and fever within up to 10 days after their return should
consult a physician and inform him/her about their recent travel history
to facilitate early diagnosis and treatment.
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.
Adequate samples for influenza tests should be rapidly taken and
processed from patients with relevant exposure history within 10 days
preceding symptom onset. Early or presumptive treatment with
neuraminidase inhibitors should be considered for suspect or confirmed
cases, in line with relevant national and international recommendations.
Contacts of confirmed cases should be followed-up and tested. Offering
post-exposure prophylaxis should be considered.