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Study Confirms Limited Human-To-Human Spread of Avian-Flu Virus in Indonesia in 2006
Date:8/28/2007

mbers prior to getting sick -- a factor considered crucial for transmission of this particular flu strain.

In an attempt to contain the spread of the virus, the local health authorities eventually placed more than 50 surviving relatives and close contacts under voluntary quarantine and all, except for pregnant women and infants, received antiviral medication as a precaution.

"The containment strategy was implemented late in the game, so it could have been just luck that the virus burned out," Longini said. "It went two generations and then just stopped, but it could have gotten out of control. The world really may have dodged a bullet with that one, and the next time we might not be so lucky," he said.

Should a strain of avian flu acquire the ability to cause sustained human-to-human transmission, the results could be catastrophic, Longini said. "If not contained, the outbreak could spread worldwide through the global transportation network faster than the appropriate vaccine supply could be made available. That's why it's so important to ascertain whether human-to-human transmission is happening as well as the virulence of the strain." The researchers estimated the secondary-attack rate of the virus in Indonesia -- the risk of one infected person passing it to another -- to be 29 percent, a level of infectiousness similar to statistical estimates for seasonal influenza A in the United States.

The researchers also aimed their statistical transmission-assessment technology at another large avian-flu cluster in eastern Turkey that in 2006 infected eight people, four of whom died. In this case, the researchers did not find statistical evidence of human-to-human transmission, most likely due to a lack of sufficient data. "There probably was person-to-person spread there as well but we couldn't get all the information we needed for the analysis," Yang said.

The methods and software used in this research led to the development of a software a
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SOURCE Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
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