Avian Influenza – China

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A 49-year-old woman was infected with avian influenza A(H5N6) in Chengdu, the capital of southwestern China’s Sichuan province.

She developed symptoms on May 13, 2021, and was admitted for treatment on May 16th. The patient is now in serious condition.

Since 2014, there have been 31 human cases of avian influenza A(H5N6) reported by the Mainland health authorities. As of May 27, 2021, a total of 239 cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H5N1) virus have been reported from countries within the WHO’s Western Pacific Region since January 2003. Of these cases, 134 were fatal, resulting in a case fatality rate of 56%.

Photo: H5N1 virus colorized micrograph, viruses are gold colored in MDCK cells (green).

Avian influenza is deadly to most birds, but it can also be deadly to humans and other animals that catch the virus (poultry farming). Since the first human case in 1997, H5N1 has killed nearly 60% of those who have been infected. Unlike human flu, avian flu does not spread easily from person to person.

Avian influenza subtypes H5N8, H5N5, H5N3, and H5N1 are currently circulating mostly in the European continent (for now). The pathogens have been detected in wild birds and these viruses are being distributed wherever wild birds migrate.

Poultry producers are recommended to implement bio-security measures necessary to protect their flocks and humans from exposure and infection.

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