Three more people in mainland China have tested positive for the H5N6 bird flu virus, officials said. Experts have called for increased surveillance amid a surge in human cases in recent months.
The Guangdong Provincial Health Commission said in a statement Thursday that a 52-year-old man from Dongguan City tested positive for H5N6 bird flu. “The patient is currently being treated in a designated hospital in Dongguan,” the commission said.
No further details of the man’s condition were immediately released, and the health committee’s statement did not explain why the man was infected. She said the risk of human-to-human transmission would be low.
Another case was reported in Yongzhou, Hunan Province, where a farmer was hospitalized in critical condition. The 66-year-old fell ill at the end of September, and samples taken from domestic birds in his garden showed they were infected with bird flu (H5), according to the World Health Organization.
Chinese authorities revealed another case, involving a 58-year-old woman from Hunan Province, at a World Health Organization meeting in September, according to a new report from the agency. The woman fell ill on August 28 but the case was not reported to the public. No details were disclosed about his condition.
Chinese authorities provide only limited information on human cases of H5N6 bird flu, and it often takes weeks before cases are publicly reported by the World Health Organization. Most of the cases were first reported by Hong Kong’s Ministry of Health, which is closely monitoring human cases.
Only 52 people have contracted H5N6 bird flu since the first confirmed case in 2014, but 20 people have been reported in the past four months, and more than half of all cases have been reported this year alone. Click here for a list of all human cases to date.
The H5N6 virus is known to cause serious illness in humans of all ages and has killed nearly half of those infected, according to the World Health Organization. There are no confirmed cases of human-to-human transmission, but a 61-year-old woman who tested positive for the virus in July denied contact with live poultry.
A study published by the Chinese Center for Disease Control in September identified several mutations in two recent cases of H5N6 bird flu. The researchers warned that “the increasing trend of human infection with avian influenza virus has become a major public health problem that cannot be ignored.”
Theis Kuiken, professor of comparative pathology at Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, also expressed concern about the growing number of cases. “This species could be more contagious (to humans)…or there could be more of this virus in poultry at the moment and that’s why more people are getting infected,” Quicken said on Tuesday.
Earlier this month, a WHO spokesperson said increased surveillance was “urgently needed” to better understand the growing number of human cases. The spokesperson added that the risk of human-to-human transmission remains low because H5N6 has not acquired the ability to continuously transmit between humans.
Meanwhile, a report from the European Center for Disease Control expressed concern about the discovery of H5N6 viruses showing signs of adaptation in mammals. He added: “Additional reports of transmission events to mammals, such as seals and foxes, as well as seroepidemiological evidence of transmission to wild boars, may indicate evolutionary processes, including adaptation to mammals that have the ability to acquire the ability to transmit to humans. “. . The report noted. .
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