China has reported two bird flu deaths after confirming five new cases of H5N6, with the World Health Organization calling for “urgent” action.
Experts have expressed concern about the growing number of bird flu cases in humans in China and warned that the strain could be more contagious to humans.
Five people – four men and one woman – in Sichuan Province, Zhejiang Province and Guangxi Autonomous Region were infected with the bird flu strain in 2021, The Sun reported, citing Hong’s health department Kong.
Two of those people are now dead, with the other three currently in hospital fighting for their lives, officials said in a statement.
Four out of five infected people have been exposed to live domestic poultry, the statement said. How the fifth was exposed is under investigation.
China has reported two bird flu deaths after confirming five new cases of H5N6, with the World Health Organization calling for “urgent” action. Pictured: Chicken cages in China (file photo)
The first person to die from H5N6 in December was a 75-year-old man from Luzhou, Sichuan. He was infected on December 1, rushed to hospital on December 4, and died on December 12.
The second victim was a 54-year-old man from Leshan, Sichuan, who was infected on December 8, admitted on December 16 and died on December 24.
A 51-year-old woman from Hangzhou, Zhejiang, fell ill on December 15 and was taken to hospital three days later. In the statement, his condition was described as critical.
Two other men from Liuzhou, Guangxi – a 53-year-old man and a 28-year-old man – were also infected and rushed to hospital on December 23. The condition of the older man is described as serious, while the condition of the younger man is also critical.
“While local surveillance, prevention and control measures are in place, the CHP will remain vigilant and work closely with the World Health Organization and relevant health authorities to monitor the latest developments,” the statement said. .
A total of 63 human cases of avian influenza A (H5N6) have been reported in China since 2014. More than half of them were reported in the past six months.
Although the numbers are well below the hundreds infected with H7N9 in 2017, the infections are severe, leaving many people seriously ill.
Most of the cases had come into contact with poultry and there are no confirmed cases of human-to-human transmission, the WHO said in October.
He said further investigation was “urgent” needed to understand the risk and increased fallout on people.
“The increase in human cases in China this year is concerning. It is a virus that causes high mortality,’ said Thijs Kuiken, a professor of comparative pathology at the Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, last year.
Pictured: Workers vaccinate chicks (file photo). China vaccinates poultry against bird flu, but the vaccine used last year only partially protects against emerging viruses, preventing large outbreaks but allowing the virus to continue circulating
“It could be that this variant is a bit more infectious (for people)…or there could be more of this virus in poultry right now and that’s why more people are getting infected.”
China is the world’s largest producer of poultry and the top producer of ducks, which act as a reservoir for flu viruses.
Backyard farms in China are common and many people still prefer to buy live chickens from markets.
China vaccinates poultry against bird flu, but the vaccine used last year can only partially protect against emerging viruses, preventing large outbreaks but allowing the virus to continue circulating.
There have been fewer than 1,000 cases worldwide since the virus emerged in the late 1990s. Human-to-human spread is even rarer.
But because of the way viruses evolve, experts fear that a strain of bird flu could evolve into one that could spread easily between humans and cause a pandemic.
In November, UK health authorities issued a warning to people traveling to China about the risks posed by bird flu.
A virus that kills up to 50% of humans… but transmission is rare: everything you need to know about bird flu
What is bird flu?
Bird flu, or bird flu, is an infectious type of flu that spreads among species of birds but can, on rare occasions, spread to humans.
Like the human flu, there are many strains of bird flu:
The current bird outbreak in the UK is H5N1, the strain the infected Briton carries.
Where was he spotted in the UK?
A case of bird flu has been identified in a human in the South West of England.
Officials did not reveal the exact location of the case, but the UKHSA said all close personal contacts of the individual had been traced and there was ‘no evidence’ the infection had occurred. spread to someone else.
The UK is facing a particularly bad year for cases in birds, with around a million people due to be culled in Lincolnshire – where the virus was first spotted on December 11.
Exclusion sites have been set up around Mablethorpe, Alford and South Elkington in the region.
There have also been outbreaks in North Yorkshire and Pocklington in East Yorkshire.
How deadly is the virus?
Bird flu mortality rates in humans have been estimated at 50%.
But because transmission to humans is so rare, fewer than 500 bird flu deaths have been reported to the World Health Organization since 1997.
Paul Wigley, professor of avian infection and immunity at the University of Liverpool, said: “The advice given by APHA and UKHSA regarding contact with infected birds is sound and should be followed.”
“The risk of wider infection in the general public remains low.”
Is it transmissible from birds to humans?
Cases of bird-to-human transmission are rare and usually do not spread from human to human.
Bird flu is transmitted through close contact with an infected bird or a bird’s body.
This may include:
- touching infected birds
- touching feces or bedding
- kill or prepare infected poultry for cooking
Professor Ian Jones, a virologist at the University of Reading, said: ‘The transfer of bird flu to humans is rare as it requires direct contact between an infected bird, usually dead, and the individual concerned.
“It is a risk for handlers who are tasked with disposing of carcasses after an outbreak, but the virus does not spread generally and poses little threat.
“It does not behave like the seasonal flu that we are used to.
“Despite the current heightened concern about viruses, there is no risk to chicken meat or eggs and no need for public alarm.”
What are the symptoms?
Bird flu symptoms usually take three to five days to appear, the most common being:
- a very high temperature
- or feel hot or shiver
- sore muscles
- a cough or shortness of breath