Man who contracted H5N2 bird flu dies in Mexico, says WHO | News from the World Health Organization

The H5N2 strain has never before been found in a human, the health agency says, but emphasizes that the risk remains low.

A man in Mexico with previous health complications died after contracting the A(H5N2) strain of bird flu, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced, warning that the risk of the virus to the general public remains low.

The global health agency, in a statement on Wednesday, said the 59-year-old man died in Mexico City in April after developing symptoms including fever, difficulty breathing, diarrhea and nausea.

The man’s relatives said he had already been bedridden for three weeks for other reasons before his acute symptoms appeared.

Mexico’s Public Health Ministry said in a statement that the man’s underlying ailments included chronic kidney failure, diabetes and high blood pressure.

He sought hospital care on April 24 and died that same day.

Initial tests showed an unidentified type of flu that subsequent weeks of laboratory testing confirmed to be A(H5N2), the WHO said.

This is the “first laboratory-confirmed human case of influenza A (H5N2) virus infection reported worldwide,” the agency added.

Andrew Pekosz, an influenza expert at Johns Hopkins University in the United States, told Reuters news agency that the man’s previous health conditions put him at “risk of more severe influenza.”

But how this individual became infected “is a big question.”

The WHO said the source of exposure to the virus was unknown, although cases of A(H5N2) have been reported in poultry in Mexico. These include a chicken farm in the state of Michoacán, which borders the State of Mexico, where the man lived, but authorities have so far been unable to establish a connection.

The WHO said no further human cases have been discovered despite testing people who were in contact with the deceased at their homes and in hospital.

“Based on available information, WHO assesses the current risk posed by this virus to the general population as low,” it said.

The Mexican Ministry of Health also stated that “there is no risk of contagion for the population” and noted that “all samples from the identified contacts (of the patient) have been negative.”

Authorities are monitoring farms near the victim’s home and have established a permanent monitoring system to detect other cases in wildlife in the area, the ministry added.

A different variant of bird flu, A(H5N1), has been spreading for weeks among dairy herds in the United States, and a small number of human cases have been reported.

Other strains of bird flu have killed people around the world in previous years, including 18 people in China during an A(H5N6) outbreak in 2021, according to a timeline of bird flu outbreaks from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. of US Diseases

Pekosz said that since 1997, H5 viruses have continually shown a propensity to infect mammals more than any other avian influenza virus.

“So the warning bell continues to ring that we must be very vigilant in monitoring these infections because each infection is an opportunity for that virus to try to accumulate those mutations that allow it to better infect humans,” Pekosz said.

Leave a Comment