Man in Mexico with first human case of H5N2 variant dies

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The World Health Organization confirms that a man in Mexico who contracted H5N2 bird flu has died. This is the first laboratory-confirmed case of infection in humans with this variant of the virus worldwide. Gins Wang/Getty Images
  • A 59-year-old man in Mexico who contracted H5N2 bird flu died in April, the World Health Organization said.
  • This is the first laboratory-confirmed human case of this bird flu variant worldwide.
  • The risk to the public from this virus is low, the WHO said.

A 59-year-old man in Mexico who contracted a strain of bird flu known as A(H5N2) died in April. The World Health Organization said this on June 5. The source of the infection is unknown.

This is the first laboratory-confirmed human case of A(H5N2) virus infection worldwide, and the first avian H5 virus reported in a person in Mexico, WHO said.

The agency said the current risk of the A(H5N2) virus to the general population in Mexico is low.

At a conference for the Association of Health Care Journalists, Mandy Cohen, MD, PhD, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, spoke about the death in Mexico.

“This is H5N2, which is different from H5N1, which is what we are seeing here now in our dairy cattle…This was an older gentleman with many underlying conditions.”

Cohen also said she thought public health authorities in Mexico were doing a “great job of contact tracing.”

“The only piece we’re waiting on is further genetic analysis, where they send samples to CDC, we hope to be able to do a deeper characterization of the genetics there,” Cohen said. (edited)

The man affected by A(H5N2) is a resident of the State of Mexico and was hospitalized in Mexico City on April 24 and died the same day due to complications of his illness.

A week earlier, he had developed fever, shortness of breath, diarrhea, nausea and general discomfort, the WHO said.

“Although the source of exposure to the virus in this case is currently unknown, A(H5N2) viruses have been reported in poultry in Mexico,” the WHO said in a statement.

In March, an outbreak of highly pathogenic bird flu A(H5N2) occurred in backyard poultry in the state of Michoacán, which borders the state of Mexico where the man lived, the agency said.

That month there were also two outbreaks of low pathogenic bird flu A(H5N2) in poultry in the state of Mexico.

This virus has also spread in the United States. H5N2 was responsible for outbreaks on US commercial and backyard farms in 2014 and 2015.

“To date, it has not been possible to determine whether this human case is linked to the recent poultry outbreaks (in Mexico),” the WHO said.

The man who died had no known history of exposure to poultry or other animals. However, he had multiple underlying medical conditions, the WHO said. His family reported that he had been bedridden for other reasons for three weeks before the onset of A(H5N2) symptoms, the agency said.

Reuters reports that Mexico’s health ministry said the man had type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease.

The seas other chronic health problems can increase a person’s chances of developing serious complications from the flu.

Mexico’s Health Ministry said there is no evidence of person-to-person transmission linked to the case, according to Reuters.

Samples collected from people who had close contact with the man or lived near his home tested negative for influenza and SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, the WHO said.

“The thing to remember is that this is an isolated case,” says Maria Ruiz, MD, an infectious disease physician at George Washington University, and director of the GW Travelers Clinic.

“Although the person has been quite ill so far, none of his contacts have tested positive for bird flu. So there is no human-to-human transmission related to this virus,” she told Healthline.

There are many types, or varieties, of it bird flu viruses.

“These viruses, such as H5N1 and now H5N2, circulate primarily among birds under the right conditions, with occasional spillovers to mammals, including humans,” said Daniel Pastula, MD, MHS, chief of neuroinfectious diseases and global neurology at the University of Colorado and Colorado School of Public Health.

Wild birds such as gulls, terns, ducks and geese are the natural hosts for avian influenza A viruses. But the viruses can also infect poultry and wild mammals such as seals, otters and foxes, and pets such as cats.

People can become infected through close contact with an infected animal or by touching a contaminated surface.

In the United States, the bird flu virus A(H5N1) has been spreading among dairy herds since March. So far, herds have been affected in nine states, including Texas, Kansas and Idaho.

Domestic cats on dairy farms have also become infected, and some have died. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that A(H5N1) has been found in several house mice in New Mexico, potentially bringing more people into closer contact with this virus.

So far, Three cases of A(H5N1) have been reported in people. Two had eye infections only, but the third had a respiratory illness caused by the virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all three cases had direct contact with infected cows.

There is no evidence of person-to-person spread of A(H5N1) due to exposure to dairy cattle, the agency said in a report. Edition.

“Cases like these demonstrate the importance of supporting our public health surveillance and response systems at the local, state, federal and international levels,” Pastula said, “because we need strong lines of biological defense.”

“There are many new infections that go beyond bird flu viruses, and we need to be prepared if and when they spread to humans,” he said.

“Overall, there is currently a low risk of bird flu viruses circulating in humans because they are generally not easily transmitted between people,” Pastula told Healthline. “However, that could always change in the future if a virus mutates enough to allow more efficient human-to-human transmission.”

People who work closely with birds and animals, especially those that may be sick, should use appropriate protective equipment and wash their hands after handling the animal, he said.

For the general public, Ruiz advises people not to touch sick or dead wild birds or other animals that may have bird flu.

“If there is a situation where you have to move a dead animal, wear gloves and a face mask,” she said, “and be careful with hand hygiene, such as not touching the animal and then touching your face without washing your hands. ”

For general flu prevention, Pastula recommends that “people wash their hands frequently, get recommended (seasonal) flu vaccines, stay home if sick with a respiratory infection (or wear a mask when around others), and seek medical care if necessary .”

The World Health Organization reports that a 59-year-old man in Mexico who contracted a strain of bird flu known as A(H5N2) died in April. He had symptoms including fever, shortness of breath, diarrhea, nausea and general discomfort.

The source of the man’s infection is unknown. He had no known contact with poultry or wildlife, but the WHO reports that H5N2 outbreaks have occurred in poultry flocks in Mexico this year. The man had multiple underlying medical conditions, which may have increased his risk of serious illness from influenza.

This virus is separate from the A(H5N1) bird flu virus that is spreading among dairy cattle in the United States and is known to have infected three people. Two of these cases involved eye infections only, but the third involved a respiratory infection.

Additional reporting by Gillian Mohney

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