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WHO confirms first human bird flu death globally in Mexico

The 59-year-old man passed away on April 24 after being admitted to a hospital in Mexico City, according to the international health organization. He had experienced fever, dyspnea, diarrhea, nausea, and general discomfort.

Written by  Annesha Barua -- June 06th 2024 12:22 PM
WHO confirms first human bird flu death globally in Mexico

WHO confirms first human bird flu death globally in Mexico

PTC News Desk: The World Health Organization stated on Wednesday that a person with a history of health issues who had contracted bird flu in April passed away in Mexico; the source of the virus's exposure was not identified.

According to the WHO, there is now little risk of avian flu to the general public.

The WHO reported that the 59-year-old State of Mexico resident passed away on April 24 after being admitted to a hospital in Mexico City due to a fever, dyspnea, diarrhea, nausea, and general discomfort. "Although the source of exposure to the virus in this case is currently unknown, A(H5N2) viruses have been reported in poultry in Mexico" , the World Health Organization stated in a statement.

As per the WHO, this was the first bird H5 virus case recorded in a human in Mexico and the first laboratory-confirmed human case of influenza A(H5N2) virus infection worldwide. According to scientists, the instance had nothing to do with the H5N1 avian flu outbreak that has sickened three dairy farm workers in the US thus far.

Additionally, the Health Ministry of Mexico stated in a statement that the infection's source was unknown. According to the WHO, the victim had numerous underlying medical issues and had been bedridden for three weeks for other reasons before the onset of severe symptoms. She had no history of exposure to chickens or other animals.

The individual had type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease, according to Mexico's health ministry. According to Johns Hopkins University influenza specialist Andrew Pekosz, "that immediately puts a person at risk of more severe influenza, even with seasonal flu".

However, there remains "a big question mark that at least this initial report doesn't really address thoroughly" regarding how this person became infected.

Mexico's authorities said in March that there had been an A(H5N2) outbreak in a solitary family in the western state of Michoacan. According to the authorities, there is no risk to human health or remote commercial farms from these incidents.

The WHO added that Mexican officials reported the case to them and verified the virus's existence following the death in April. According to Mexico's Health Ministry, farms close to the victim's residence were observed, but there was no indication of a person-to-person transfer in this instance.

The WHO and the health ministry said that no one else who had contact with the affected individual tested positive for bird flu. Mammals include seals, raccoons, bears, and cattle have contracted bird flu, mostly as a result of coming into touch with diseased birds.

Researchers are watching for any alterations in the virus that would indicate it is changing to become more easily transmitted among people.

Since an outbreak of H5N1 was discovered in dairy cattle in March, three instances of the virus in humans have been recorded from contact to cows in the United States. Three also had respiratory problems, and two had conjunctivitis symptoms.

They are both H5 avian viruses, even though the type that killed the person in Mexico was different from the one that is presently infecting cattle in the US.

More than any other avian influenza virus, according to Pekosz, H5 viruses have consistently demonstrated a tendency to infect mammals since 1997.

"So it continues to ring that warning bell that we should be very vigilant about monitoring for these infections, because every spillover is an opportunity for that virus to try to accumulate those mutations that make it better infect humans" , Pekosz stated.

In May, Australia declared the first-ever instance of A(H5N1) infection in a human, adding that no evidence of transmission was present. However, it has discovered more H7 bird flu cases in poultry on Victorian farms.

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- With inputs from agencies

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