A novel avian-origin reassortant influenza A(H7N9) virus has been detected in a number of human cases in China since March 2013. To assist European laboratories in verifying and ensuring their diagnostic capability to detect and identify this virus, ECDC jointly with CNRL and WHO Europe is releasing a technical briefing note on Diagnostic preparedness in Europe for detection of avian influenza A(H7N9) viruses.
The briefing note provides:
- a list of laboratory preparedness considerations to ensure European-wide diagnostic capability;
- an update on current methods used for molecular detection of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus by RT-PCR;
- a table of H7 HA assay validation criteria;
- information on positive controls for RT-PCR assays.
Specifically on H7 detection capabilities, the document includes the following considerations:
- Laboratories testing for H7 will require a molecular detection capability allowing same-day specific detection ability in response to clinical queries or case scenarios.
- A two-step approach for detection and confirmation of avian influenza A(H7N9) virus infection should be followed.
- Laboratories require: (i) a generic influenza A virus testing capability which will assuredly detect an avian influenza A(H7N9) virus within the Eurasian lineage as influenza A and (ii) a specific H7 HA detection capability to confirm the presence of an avian influenza A(H7N9) virus in a sample which is positive for influenza A, but negative for H1, H3 and H5.
Further assessment and monitoring of avian influenza A(H7N9) virus detection capability in laboratories is on-going to ensure diagnostic coverage in Europe.
ECDC provides regular updates on avian influenza A(H7N9) virus, and continues to closely monitor and re-assess the situation in collaboration with WHO, US CDC, China CDC and other partners.