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Hong Kong health officials report monitoring a human case of avian influenza A(H5N6) in the Mainland, the 84th human case since 2014 and the 59th case in the past three years.

Image by 1343024 from Pixabay

This case involves a 54-year-old female living in Nanchong, Sichuan, who had exposure to live domestic poultry before the onset of symptoms. She developed symptoms on May 19 and was admitted for treatment on the same day. She is in serious condition.

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.

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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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