Past, present, and possible future human infection with influenza virus A subtype H7

Emerg Infect Dis. 2009 Jun;15(6):859-65. doi: 10.3201/eid1506.090072.


Influenza A subtype H7 viruses have resulted in >100 cases of human infection since 2002 in the Netherlands, Italy, Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Clinical illness from subtype H7 infection ranges from conjunctivitis to mild upper respiratory illness to pneumonia. Although subtype H7 infections have resulted in a smaller proportion of hospitalizations and deaths in humans than those caused by subtype H5N1, some subtype H7 strains appear more adapted for human infection on the basis of their virus-binding properties and illness rates among exposed persons. Moreover, increased isolation of subtype H7 influenza viruses from poultry and the ability of this subtype to cause severe human disease underscore the need for continued surveillance and characterization of these viruses. We review the history of human infection caused by subtype H7. In addition, we discuss recently identified molecular correlates of subtype H7 virus pathogenesis and assess current measures to prevent future subtype H7 virus infection.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Conjunctivitis, Viral* / pathology
  • Conjunctivitis, Viral* / virology
  • Humans
  • Influenza A Virus, H7N7 Subtype / pathogenicity*
  • Influenza A virus / classification*
  • Influenza A virus / pathogenicity*
  • Influenza in Birds / transmission*
  • Influenza in Birds / virology
  • Influenza, Human* / pathology
  • Influenza, Human* / virology
  • Poultry / virology
  • Poultry Diseases / transmission
  • Poultry Diseases / virology