Isolation of avian influenza A(H5N1) viruses from humans--Hong Kong, May-December 1997

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 1997 Dec 19;46(50):1204-7.


A strain of influenza virus that previously was known to infect only birds has been associated with infection and illness in humans in Hong Kong. The first known human case of influenza type A(H5N1) occurred in a 3-year-old child who died from respiratory failure in May 1997. In Hong Kong, the virus initially was identified as influenza type A, but the subtype could not be determined using standard reagents. By August, CDC; the National Influenza Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands; and the National Institute for Medical Research, London, United Kingdom, had independently identified the virus as influenza A(H5N1). An investigation conducted during August-September by the Hong Kong Department of Health and CDC excluded the possibility of laboratory contamination. Since this initial case was identified, six additional persons in Hong Kong have been confirmed to have influenza A(H5N1) infection, and two possible cases have been identified. This report summarizes the nine cases identified thus far and describes preliminary findings from the ongoing investigation, which indicate that multiple influenza A(H5N1) infections have occurred and that both the source and mode of transmission are uncertain at this time.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Hong Kong / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Influenza A Virus, H5N1 Subtype*
  • Influenza A virus* / isolation & purification
  • Influenza, Human / epidemiology*
  • Influenza, Human / virology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged