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WHO confirms first death from bird flu strain influenza A(H5N2) in Mexico

NEW DELHI: The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported the first confirmed death of a human infected with avian influenza A (H5N2), the virus causing bird flu.

This is the first laboratory-confirmed human case of infection with an influenza A(H5N2) virus reported globally and infection in a person reported in Mexico, the WHO said in a statement.

The infection was first reported to PAHO/WHO by the Mexico IHR NFP on May 23, 2024. A 59-year-old Mexico resident was hospitalised in Mexico City and had no history of exposure to poultry or other animals, it said.

According to the statement, the individual had multiple underlying medical conditions and relatives reported the case to have been bedridden for three weeks, for other reasons, prior to the onset of acute symptoms.

On 17 April, the individual developed fever, shortness of breath, diarrhoea, nausea and general malaise, according to the UN health agency's statement.

He sought medical attention on 24 April and was hospitalised at the National Institute of Respiratory Diseases "Ismael Cosio Villegas" (INER) but died the same day due to complications of his condition, the statement said.

The same day, results from Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) of a respiratory sample collected and tested at INER indicated a non-subtypeable influenza A virus, it said.

The sample was on 8 May sent for sequencing to the Laboratory of Molecular Biology of Emerging Diseases Center for Research in Infectious Diseases (CIENI) of INER, which indicated that the sample was positive for influenza A(H5N2), the statement said.

On 20 May, the sample was received at the Institute of Epidemiological Diagnosis and Reference (InDRE) of the Mexico National Influenza Centre, for analysis by RT-PCR, obtaining a positive result for influenza A.

Two days later, on May 22, sequencing of the sample confirmed the influenza subtype was A(H5N2), the statement said.

No further cases were reported during the epidemiological investigation, the agency said.

Affecting the upper respiratory tract, bird flu infections in humans can be mild to severe, sometimes fatal. Symptoms including conjunctivitis and gastrointestinal, have been reported, according to the WHO.

The viruses responsible for these infections normally spread in animals, but can also infect humans through direct contact with infected animals or contaminated environments, the statement said.


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