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1st fatal human case of bird flu subtype confirmed in Mexico: WHO

This is the first laboratory-confirmed human case of H5N2 ever reported.

The World Health Organization on Wednesday confirmed the first fatal case of a subtype of avian flu in Mexico.

This is the first laboratory-confirmed human case of the H5N2 strain of avian influenza, or bird flu, reported in the world and the first-ever case reported in Mexico.

This strain is different from the strain of avian flu currently circulating in livestock in the United States and which has infected three dairy workers in the United States.

The Mexican patient was a 59-year-old resident with no history of exposure to poultry or other animals, according to the WHO.

On April 17, the patient developed fever, nausea, diarrhea, shortness of breath and general malaise. They were hospitalized on April 24 at the National Institute of Respiratory Diseases in Mexico City and died the same day.

The patient’s relatives said the person suffered from underlying medical conditions and they had been bedridden for three weeks for other reasons before contracting bird flu, WHO said. On Wednesday evening, Mexico’s Health Ministry said the patient had “a history of chronic kidney disease, type 2 diabetes (and) long-term systemic hypertension.”

Test results ultimately revealed that the patient was infected with the H5N2 subtype of avian influenza, which has never been documented in humans before.

No other cases were documented during the investigation by health authorities, according to the WHO. Among the 17 people the patient had contact with at the hospital, one person reported a runny nose in late April. Samples taken from contacts tested negative for influenza and COVID-19.

Twelve other people the patient came into contact with – seven with symptoms and five without symptoms – were identified near the patient’s home. Nose, throat and blood samples were taken from the contacts. Nose and throat samples tested negative for COVID-19 and blood sample results are pending.

Mexico’s Health Ministry said in a statement Wednesday that “all samples from identified contacts tested negative” for H5N2.

The WHO said that although human infection with avian flu “has the potential for high public health impact”, the global health agency said the current risk to the general population is low.

Mexico’s Health Ministry echoed the WHO in its statement.

“The Ministry of Health informs that there is no risk of contagion for the population with the detection of the first human case of low pathogenic avian influenza A (H5N2) in Mexico, since there is no source infection identified,” the statement said.

In the United States, an outbreak of the H5N1 strain has sickened millions of birds as well as older dairy cows. So far, three farmworkers have been sickened in the United States, one in Texas and two in Michigan.

All three had mild symptoms and have recovered or are recovering. There is no evidence of human-to-human transmission and the risk to the general public is low, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Although H5N2 and H5N1 belong to the same family of influenza A viruses, H5N1 has been known to infect humans for years, while this is the first-ever reported case of H5N2 in humans,” said Dr. John Brownstein, epidemiologist and chief office of innovation at Boston Children’s Hospital and ABC News contributor. “The good news is that neither H5N2 nor H5N1 has so far demonstrated human-to-human transmission. However, this first case is a wake-up call. It reminds us that influenza viruses can evolve and that the Continued monitoring of these viruses in both animals and humans is crucial.

News Source : abcnews.go.com
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