Bird Flu Human Death: WHO confirms world’s first human death from bird flu in Mexico

The World Health Organization said on Wednesday that a person infected with bird flu in Mexico in April who died had pre-existing health complications and that the source of exposure to the virus was unknown. WHO said the current risk of the bird flu virus to the general population is low. The 59-year-old resident of the State of Mexico was hospitalised in Mexico City and died on April 24 after suffering from fever, shortness of breath, diarrhoea, nausea and general malaise, the WHO 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,” WHO said in a statement. According to the WHO, this was the first laboratory-confirmed human case of influenza A(H5N2) virus infection worldwide and the first avian H5 virus reported in a person in Mexico.

The case is not related to the H5N1 bird flu outbreak in the United States, which has so far infected three dairy farm workers, scientists said.Mexico’s health ministry also said in a statement that the source of the infection has not been identified.

WHO said The victim had no history of exposure to poultry or other animals, but had multiple underlying medical conditions and had been bedridden for three weeks for other reasons, prior to the onset of acute symptoms. Mexico’s health ministry said the man had chronic kidney disease and type 2 diabetes.

“This puts a person at risk for more severe influenza, even with seasonal flu,” said Andrew Pekosz, an influenza expert at Johns Hopkins University. But how the man got infected “is a big question mark that hasn’t really been fully addressed, at least in this initial report.”

In March, Mexico’s government reported an outbreak of A(H5N2) in an isolated family unit in the country’s western Michoacán state. The government said the cases did not represent a risk to distant commercial farms or human health.

Following the death in April, Mexican authorities confirmed the presence of the virus and reported the case to the WHO, the agency said. Mexico’s health ministry said there was no evidence of person-to-person transmission in the case and that fields near the victim’s home were being monitored.

The health ministry and WHO said others who came in contact with the man tested negative for bird flu. Bird flu has primarily infected mammals such as seals, raccoons, bears, and cattle through contact with infected birds.

Scientists are alert to changes in the virus that may indicate it is adapting to spread more easily among humans. The United States has reported three cases of H5N1 human infection after contact with cows since the outbreak was detected in dairy cattle in March. Two had symptoms of conjunctivitis, while the third also had respiratory symptoms.

Although the deaths in Mexico were not the same as the one currently infecting cattle in the United States, they are both H5 avian viruses. Since 1997, the H5 virus has consistently shown a propensity to infect mammals more than any other avian influenza virus, Pekosz said.

Pekos said So this continues to ring alarm bells that we must be very vigilant about monitoring these infections, because every spillover is an opportunity for that virus to accumulate mutations that make it better able to infect humans.

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

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