Infectivity, Transmission, and Pathology of Human H7N9 Influenza in Ferrets and Pigs

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Science  23 May 2013:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1239844

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The emergence of the H7N9 influenza virus in humans in Eastern China has raised concerns that a new influenza pandemic could occur. Here, we used a ferret model to evaluate the infectivity and transmissibility of A/Shanghai/2/2013 (SH2), a human H7N9 virus isolate. This virus replicated in the upper and lower respiratory tracts of the ferrets and was shed at high titers for 6 to 7 days, with ferrets showing relatively mild clinical signs. SH2 was efficiently transmitted via direct contact, but less efficiently by airborne exposure. Pigs could be productively infected by SH2 and shed virus for 6 days but were unable to transmit the virus to other animals. Under appropriate conditions human-to-human transmission of the H7N9 virus may be possible.

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