By NewsDesk  @bactiman63

The Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection (CHP) reports monitoring a human case of avian influenza A(H5N6) in the Mainland.

Image/Robert Herriman

The case involves a 66-year-old man living in Yongzhou in Hunan Province. He is a farmer and had contact with live domestic poultry. He developed symptoms on September 25, and was admitted for treatment on September 27. The patient is in critical condition.

From 2014 to date, 49 human cases of avian influenza A(H5N6) have been reported by Mainland health authorities.

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 diarrhea) 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.