By News Desk  @bactiman63

The World Health Organization (WHO) in the Western Pacific Region announced recently two additional human avian influenza A(H5N6) virus infections in China.

China /CIA

The first case is a three-year-old female from Guizhou Province, China who was admitted to hospital with severe illness and died on 22 December 2020.

The second case is a one-year-old female from Anhui Province, China who developed mild illness in December 2020.

Both cases were sporadic and had exposure to poultry at markets prior to onset of illness.

To date, a total of 29 laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with influenza A(H5N6) virus including nine deaths have been reported to WHO from China since 2014.

Avian influenza is caused by those influenza viruses that mainly affect birds and poultry, such as chickens or ducks.

Clinical presentation of avian influenza in humans includes eye infection (conjunctivitis), flu-like symptoms (e.g. fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches) or severe respiratory illness (e.g. chest infection). The incubation period ranges from 7 to 10 days.

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The more virulent forms can result in respiratory failure, multi-organ failure and even death. People mainly become infected with avian influenza virus through contact with infected birds and poultry (live or dead) or their droppings, or contact with contaminated environments (such as wet markets and live poultry markets). Human-to-human transmission is inefficient.

People in close contact with poultry are more susceptible to contracting avian influenza. The elderly, children and people with chronic illness have a higher risk of developing complications such as bronchitis and chest infection.