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The fifth epidemic wave of avian influenza A(H7N9) virus in China during 2016-2017 demonstrated a geographic range expansion and caused more human cases than any previous wave. The factors that may explain the recent range expansion and surge in incidence remain unknown. We investigated the effect of anthropogenic, poultry, and wetland variables on all epidemic waves. Poultry predictor variables became much more important in the last 2 epidemic waves than they were previously, supporting the assumption of much wider H7N9 transmission in the chicken reservoir. We show that the future range expansion of H7N9 to northern China may increase the risk of H7N9 epidemic peaks coinciding in time and space with those of seasonal influenza, leading to a higher risk of reassortments than before, although the risk is still low so far.

Original publication




Journal article


Emerg Infect Dis

Publication Date





87 - 94


China, H7N9 subtype, Influenza in humans, geographic mapping, influenza, influenza A virus, poultry, viruses