Wednesday, June 19, 2024

WHO confirms first fatal human case of avian H5 flu strain in Mexico

A man died in Mexico City earlier this year after becoming ill with a strain of avian flu virus that had never previously been confirmed in humans anywhere in the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Wednesday.

The WHO said in a statement that Mexican authorities reported “a confirmed fatal case of human infection with avian influenza A(H5N2) virus” on May 23.

The infection was detected in a México state resident who was hospitalized in Mexico City, the WHO said.

“This is the first laboratory-confirmed human case of infection with an influenza A(H5N2) virus reported globally and the first avian H5 virus infection in a person reported in Mexico,” the agency said.

“Although the source of exposure to the virus in this case is currently unknown, A(H5N2) viruses have been reported in poultry in Mexico,” it added.

The WHO said that it had assessed the current risk to the general population from the virus as “low.”

The source of the virus in this fatality case has yet to be determined, but avian influenza outbreaks often occur in poultry farms. (Cuartoscuro)The man who died was 59 years old and had “multiple underlying medical conditions,” the WHO said.

He “had no history of exposure to poultry or other animals,” the WHO said, and “had already been bedridden for three weeks, for other reasons, prior to the onset of acute symptoms,” according to the case’s relatives.

“On 17 April, the case developed fever, shortness of breath, diarrhea, nausea and general malaise. On 24 April, the case sought medical attention, was hospitalized at the National Institute of Respiratory Diseases … and died the same day due to complications of his condition,” the WHO said.

It said that no further cases of the same bird flu strain were detected during an epidemiological investigation.

“Of the 17 contacts identified and monitored at the hospital where the case died, one reported a runny nose between 28 and 29 April,” the WHO said.

The agency noted that a “high pathogenicity avian influenza A(H5N2) outbreak was detected in a backyard poultry farm in the state of Michoacán,” which borders México state, in March.

It also noted that two “low pathogenicity” A(H5N2) bird flu outbreaks occurred this year in México state, one in Texcoco in March and another in Temascalapa in April.

“Thus far, it has not been possible to establish if this human case is related to the recent poultry outbreaks,” the WHO said.

United States media noted that the avian flu strain that caused the fatality in Mexico is different from the one currently circulating in cattle in the U.S. that has infected three dairy workers there. That strain is H5N1.

The WHO noted in its statement that “sporadic human cases” of infection with avian influenza viruses “are not unexpected.”

The risk comes from “exposure to infected poultry or contaminated environments,” the agency said, explaining that “the current likelihood of sustained human-to-human spread is low.”

The WHO also noted that “there are no specific vaccines for preventing influenza A(H5) virus infection in humans” but “candidate vaccines to prevent A(H5) infection in humans have been developed for pandemic preparedness purposes.”

Mexico News Daily 


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