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The Journal of infectious diseases

Risk of influenza A (H5N1) infection among health care workers exposed to patients with influenza A (H5N1), Hong Kong.


PMID 10608786

Abstract

The first outbreak of avian influenza A (H5N1) occurred among humans in Hong Kong in 1997. To estimate the risk of person-to-person transmission, a retrospective cohort study was conducted to compare the prevalence of H5N1 antibody among health care workers (HCWs) exposed to H5N1 case-patients with the prevalence among nonexposed HCWs. Information on H5N1 case-patient and poultry exposures and blood samples for H5N1-specific antibody testing were collected. Eight (3.7%) of 217 exposed and 2 (0.7%) of 309 nonexposed HCWs were H5N1 seropositive (P=.01). The difference remained significant after controlling for poultry exposure (P=.01). This study presents the first epidemiologic evidence that H5N1 viruses were transmitted from patients to HCWs. Human-to-human transmission of avian influenza may increase the chances for the emergence of a novel influenza virus with pandemic potential.