The National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) in China has reported a human case of avian influenza A(H5N1).

H5N1 avian influenza/CDC
H5N1 avian influenza/CDC

The patient is a 37-year-old woman from the eastern coastal province of Jiangsu.

According to the information provided by NHFPC, the patient lived in Suzhou with poultry exposure history. She developed fever and cough on January 14, and attended a local hospital on January 15.

She is currently in critical condition. Her specimen, which was tested by the relevant authority, was positive to avian influenza A(H5N1).

This is the 9th H5N1 avian influenza (AI) case reported by China in 5 years.

H5N1 is a type of influenza virus that causes a highly infectious, severe respiratory disease in birds called avian influenza (or “bird flu”). Human cases of H5N1 avian influenza occur occasionally, but it is difficult to transmit the infection from person to person. When people do become infected, the mortality rate is about 60%.

Almost all cases of H5N1 infection in people have been associated with close contact with infected live or dead birds, or H5N1-contaminated environments. The virus does not infect humans easily, and spread from person to person appears to be unusual. There is no evidence that the disease can be spread to people through properly prepared and thoroughly cooked food.

Worldwide, there has been approximately 700 human H5N1 AI infections reported since 2003, including approximately 400 fatalities.

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