Professor and Head
Hong Kong University
Infected individuals were identified through cross-referencing people who had laboratory confirmed A/H7N9 infection with people detected by the sentinel surveillance system for influenza-like illness, where patients meeting the World Health Organization's definition of influenza-like illness undergo weekly surveillance, and 10-15 nasopharyngeal swabs are collected each week from a subset of patients with influenza-like illness in each hospital for virological testing. We extracted relevant epidemiological data from public health investigations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the local, provincial, and national level; and clinical and laboratory data from chart review.
To characterise the complete case series of influenza A/H7N9 infections as of 27 May 2013, detected by China's national sentinel surveillance system for influenza-like illness.
Epidemiological, clinical, and laboratory profiles of the case series.
Outpatient clinics and emergency departments of 554 sentinel hospitals across 31 provinces in mainland China.
Our findings support the existence of a "clinical iceberg" phenomenon in influenza A/H7N9 infections, and reinforce the need for vigilance to the diverse presentation that can be associated with A/H7N9 infection. At the public health level, indirect evidence suggests a substantial proportion of mild disease in A/H7N9 infections.
Of 130 people with laboratory confirmed A/H7N9 infection as of 27 May 2013, five (4%) were detected through the sentinel surveillance system for influenza-like illness. Mean age was 13 years (range 2-26), and none had any underlying medical conditions. Exposure history, geographical location, and timing of symptom onset of these five patients were otherwise similar to the general cohort of laboratory confirmed cases so far. Only two of the five patients needed hospitalisation, and all five had mild or moderate disease with an uneventful course of recovery.
Ip DK, Liao Q, Wu P, Gao Z, Cao B, Feng L, Xu X, Jiang H, Li M, Bao J, Zheng J, Zhang Q, Chang Z, Li Y, Yu J, Liu F, Ni MY, Wu JT, Cowling BJ, Yang W, Leung GM, Yu H. (2013). Detection of mild to moderate influenza A/H7N9 infection by China's national sentinel surveillance system for influenza-like illness: case series. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), (346)