Avian Influenza – China

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China reports human H5N6 avian influenza case in Yongzhou, Hunan Province.

The case involves a 40-year-old woman who was exposed to live poultry before onset of symptoms. She developed symptoms on September 8 and was admitted for treatment on the next day. The patient is in critical condition.

Symptoms may appears as flu-like symptoms (e.g. fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches) or severe respiratory illness (e.g. chest infection). Some patients have reported eye infection (conjunctivitis) and gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g. nausea, vomiting and diarrhea). The incubation period ranges from 7 to 10 days.

From 2014 to date, there have been 43 human cases of avian influenza A(H5N6) in mainland China, with four out of ten cases reported in just the past year.

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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