Health officials in Hong Kong report closely monitoring a human case of avian influenza A(H5N1) in the Mainland.
The case involves a 38-year-old woman living in Qinzhou, Guangxi, who had exposure to live domestic poultry before onset. She developed symptoms on September 22 and was admitted for treatment on September 25. She passed away on October 18.
From 2005 to date, 54 human cases of avian influenza A(H5N1), including 32 fatalities have been reported by Mainland health authorities.
Globally, 868 total confirmed human H5N1 avian influenza cases have been reported since 2003, including 457 deaths in 21 countries.
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 may range from flu-like symptoms (e.g. fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches) to severe respiratory illness (e.g. chest infection). Eye infection (conjunctivitis) and gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g. nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea) have also been reported. 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 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.
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