A man in China has been hospitalized with the H5N6 strain of bird flu, one of several potentially deadly viruses that have been discovered in flocks of birds over the years, according to reports on Thursday.
The 55-year-old man tested positive for the virus on July 6 after he caught a fever and was hospitalized in Sichuan, located in the southwest of the country, according to the state-owned China Global Television Network.
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The case is one of 33 seen in the Western Pacific region since 2014, according to data from the World Health Organization. State media, citing unnamed experts, said the latest infection does not pose a risk of large-scale human-to-human transmission.
The station said local authorities “activated an emergency response and sterilized the area” as soon as they learned of the infection. It is not known how the man came into contact with the virus, whether he worked with birds or whether any member of his family or close contact was infected.
The first human infection of the H5N6 strain was originally detected in Laos in 2014 and around 60% of cases so far have resulted in death, according to the WHO.
“Whenever avian flu viruses are circulating in birds, there is a risk of sporadic infection and small clusters of human cases due to exposure to infected birds or contaminated environments. Therefore, sporadic human cases are not unexpected,” explained WHO in its latest weekly update on avian flu on 9 July.
“With the continuing incidence of avian influenza due to existing and new influenza A(H5) viruses in birds, it is necessary to remain vigilant in the animal and public health sectors. Community awareness of potential dangers to human health is essential to preventing infection in humans. Surveillance must be continued to detect human cases and early changes in virus transmissibility and infectivity. ”
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