NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

Hong Kong health authorities report monitoring a human case of avian influenza A(H5N6) in a 54-year-old woman living in Zigong, Sichuan Province.

Image/Robert Herriman

The woman had exposure to deceased backyard poultry before the onset of symptoms. She developed symptoms on November 17, and was admitted for treatment on November 21 and passed away on November 23.

This is the 27th human case reported on Mainland China in the past year and the 52nd case reported since the first case was reported in 2014.

H5N6 avian influenza: WHO urges countries to remain vigilant

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.