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PLoS One. 2013 Aug 13;8(8):e71765. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0071765. eCollection 2013.

Seroprevalence of antibodies to highly pathogenic avian influenza A (H5N1) virus among close contacts exposed to H5N1 cases, China, 2005-2008.

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Key Laboratory of Surveillance and Early-warning on Infectious Disease, Division of Infectious Disease, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC), Beijing, China.


To assess the extent of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A (H5N1) virus transmission, we conducted sero-epidemiologic studies among close contacts exposed to H5N1 cases in mainland China during 2005-2008. Blood specimens were collected from 87 household members and 332 social contacts of 23 H5N1 index cases for HPAI H5N1 serological testing by modified horse red-blood-cell hemagglutinin inhibition and microneutralization assays. All participants were interviewed with a standardized questionnaire to collect information about the use of personal protective equipment, illness symptoms, exposure to an H5N1 case during the infectious period, and poultry exposures. Two (2.3%) household contacts tested positive for HPAI H5N1 virus antibody, and all social contacts tested negative. Both seropositive cases had prolonged, unprotected, close contact with a different H5N1 index case, including days of bed-care or sleeping together during the index case's infectious period, and did not develop any illness. None of the 419 close contacts used appropriate personal protective equipment including 17% who reported providing bedside care or having physical contact with an H5N1 case for at least 12 hours. Our findings suggest that HPAI H5N1 viruses that circulated among poultry in mainland China from 2005-2008 were not easily transmitted to close contacts of H5N1 cases.

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