Lack of H5N1 avian influenza transmission to hospital employees, Hanoi, 2004.
Liem NT., Lim W., World Health Organization International Avian Influenza Investigation Team, Vietnam None.
To establish whether human-to-human transmission of influenza A H5N1 occurred in the healthcare setting in Vietnam, we conducted a cross-sectional seroprevalence survey among hospital employees exposed to 4 confirmed and 1 probable H5N1 case-patients or their clinical specimens. Eighty-three (95.4%) of 87 eligible employees completed a questionnaire and provided a serum sample, which was tested for antibodies to influenza A H5N1. Ninety-five percent reported exposure to > or = 1 H5N1 case-patients; 59 (72.0%) reported symptoms, and 2 (2.4%) fulfilled the definition for a possible H5N1 secondary case-patient. No study participants had detectable antibodies to influenza A H5N1. The data suggest that the H5N1 viruses responsible for human cases in Vietnam in January 2004 are not readily transmitted from person to person. However, influenza viruses are genetically variable, and transmissibility is difficult to predict. Therefore, persons providing care for H5N1 patients should continue to take measures to protect themselves.