The National Health and Family Planning Commission in China has reported an additional human case of avian influenza A(H5N6) in Guangdong province today. This is the ninth human case seen on the Mainland since May 2014.
The patient is a 31-year-old woman from Futian, Shenzhen. She developed fever and cough on January 8 and is currently hospitalized for treatment in critical condition.
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.
The more virulent forms can result in respiratory failure, multi-organ failure and even death. People mainly become infected with avian influenza through close contact with infected birds and poultry (live or dead) or their droppings. Human-to-human transmission is inefficient. People in close contact with poultry are more susceptible to contracting avian flu.