By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

Officials with the Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection (CHP) report monitoring a human case of avian influenza A(H5N6) in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China.

Image/Robert Herriman

The case involved a 49-year-old woman living in Chengdu. She developed symptoms on May 13, and was admitted for treatment on May 16. The patient is now in serious condition.

From 2014 to date, 31 human cases of avian influenza A(H5N6) have been reported by the 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 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 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.