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The recent emergence of A(H7N9) avian influenza poses a significant challenge to public health in China and around the world; however, understanding of the transmission dynamics and progression of influenza A(H7N9) infection in domestic poultry, as well as spillover transmission to humans, remains limited. Here, we develop a mathematical model–Bayesian inference system which combines a simple epidemic model and data assimilation method, and use it in conjunction with data on observed human influenza A(H7N9) cases from 19 February 2013 to 19 September 2015 to estimate key epidemiological parameters and to forecast infection in both poultry and humans. Our findings indicate a high outbreak attack rate of 33% among poultry but a low rate of chicken-to-human spillover transmission. In addition, we generated accurate forecasts of the peak timing and magnitude of human influenza A(H7N9) cases. This work demonstrates that transmission dynamics within an avian reservoir can be estimated and that real-time forecast of spillover avian influenza in humans is possible.


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