Mexican dies from first human case of bird flu, H5N2 strain | Bird flu

The World Health Organization (WHO) said the death of a man in Mexico was caused by a strain of bird flu called H5N2 that had never been detected in humans before.

The WHO said Wednesday it was unclear how the person became infected. “Although the source of virus exposure in this case is currently unknown, A(H5N2) viruses have been reported in poultry in Mexico,” the ministry said in a statement.

Scientists are on alert for changes in the virus that could indicate that bird flu is adapting to spread more easily between humans.

But the UN agency said on Wednesday that the current risk of the bird flu virus to the general population in Mexico was low.

The 59-year-old man, hospitalized in Mexico City, died on April 24 from fever, shortness of breath, diarrhea, nausea and general discomfort, the WHO said.

Mexico’s Health Ministry added in a statement Wednesday that there was so far no evidence of person-to-person transmission of bird flu in the case of the deceased man and that he suffered from multiple previous health problems. All people who had been in contact with him tested negative, the press release said.

In March, the Mexican government reported an outbreak of the A(H5N2) virus in an isolated family unit in the western state of Michoacan, but said at the time that it did not pose a risk to remote commercial farms, nor for human health.

After the April death, Mexican authorities confirmed the presence of the virus and reported the case to the WHO, the agency said.

There were three outbreaks of the H5N2 virus in poultry in neighboring areas of Mexico in March, but authorities have failed to establish a link.

Scientists said the case in Mexico was not linked to the outbreak of another strain of bird flu – H5N1 – in the United States, which has so far infected three dairy farm workers.

Other varieties of bird flu have killed people around the world in previous years, including 18 people in China during a 2021 H5N6 outbreak, according to a timeline of bird flu outbreaks compiled by the Centers for Disease United States Control and Prevention.

Andrew Pekosz, a flu expert at Johns Hopkins University, said that since 1997, H5 viruses have continually shown a propensity to infect mammals more than any other avian flu virus.

“So this continues to sound the alarm that we should be very vigilant about monitoring these infections, because every spillover is an opportunity for this virus to try to accumulate these mutations that allow it to better infect humans.” , did he declare.

Cases of bird flu have now been identified in mammals such as seals, raccoons, bears and livestock, mainly due to contact with infected birds.

Australia reported its first human case of A(H5N1) virus infection in May, noting there were no signs of transmission. However, he found more cases of H7 bird flu in poultry on farms in Victoria.

With Reuters and Associated Press

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