The Chinese National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) has reported a human case of avian influenza A(H5N1) affecting a 46-year-old man from Sichuan.

H5N1 avian influenza/CDC
H5N1 avian influenza/CDC

According to the information provided by NHFPC, the patient is a poultry worker who lived in Suining. He developed a cough and chest discomfort on February 18.

He attended a local hospital on February 21 and passed away on February 27. His specimen, which was tested by the relevant authority, was positive for avian influenza A(H5N1).

This is the 2nd human H5N1 avian influenza case in China this year.

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.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 3, from 2003 through 3 March 2015, 784 laboratory-confirmed human cases of avian influenza A(H5N1) virus infection have been officially reported to WHO from 16 countries. Of these cases, 429 have died (55%).