H5N6 avian influenza case reported in Hunan, China man


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A 54-year-old man living in Changsha, Hunan Province is the latest patient in China who contracted avian influenza A (H5N6).

Photo/Robert Herrmann

The patient developed symptoms on November 2, 2022. He was admitted for treatment on November 5, 2022, and is in critical condition.

From 2014 to date, mainland health authorities have reported 82 human cases of avian influenza A (H5N6), including 18 in 2022.

Avian influenza is caused by influenza viruses that mainly infect birds and poultry, such as chickens or ducks. The clinical presentation of avian influenza in humans may range from flu-like symptoms (such as fever, cough, sore throat, and muscle aches) to severe respiratory illness (such as chest infection). Eye infection (conjunctivitis) and gastrointestinal symptoms (such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea) have also been reported. The incubation period ranges from 7 to 10 days. The most virulent forms can lead to respiratory failure, multiple organ failure, and even death.

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People mainly become infected with the 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 ineffective. People who are in close contact with poultry are more likely to get bird flu. The elderly, children, and people with chronic diseases are more likely to develop complications such as bronchitis and chest infection.

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