The National Health Commission in China has reported an additional human case of avian influenza A(H5N6) in Guangxi.

Image/Robert Herriman
Image/Robert Herriman

The case involved a 44-year-old man from Hechi in Guangxi. He developed symptoms on October 18, was hospitalized on October 21 and died on October 27. The patient denied that he had contact with live poultry before the onset of symptoms.

From 2014 to date, 22 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.

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