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H5N2 avian flu: first human victim, WHO announces

  • June 6, 2024
  • 6 Min
  • 7
h5n2-avian-flu:-first-human-victim,-who-announces

This Wednesday, June 5, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced in its epidemiological bulletin that a person died due to Avian Flu de type H5N2 in Mexico. The victim, a 59-year-old man, already presented “multiple underlying health conditions” reports the WHO.

“It’s about first human case laboratory confirmed infection by an influenza A (H5N2) virus reported in the world and the first infection with the avian H5 virus in a person reported in Mexico,” can we read in the bulletin. At this time, the source of exposure to the virus is not yet known. If the UN organization remains cautious, it considers that the risk for the general population remains “low”, no other cases of H5N2 avian flu contamination having been observed.

Deaths from H5N2 avian flu: what we know

The victim is a 59-year-old man. The latter died on April 24, 2024 while hospitalized at the Ismael Cosio Villegas National Institute of Respiratory Diseases in Mexico City. His symptoms began on April 17. It wasfevershortness of breath, diarrheanausea and general malaise”. If cases of A (H5N2) virus have been reported in poultry in Mexico, had not been exposed to it.

“The case had several underlying health conditions. The patient’s relatives reported that he had already been bedridden for three weeks, for other reasons, before the onset of acute symptoms. underlines the WHO. An epidemiological investigation was carried out among contact cases, revealing no no other human contamination.

Since the start of 2024, several poultry farms in Mexico have been affected by H5N2 avian flu. “In March 2024, an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza A (H5N2) was detected on a backyard poultry farm in the state of Michoacán, which borders the state of Mexico where the case resided,” details the WHO. Two other outbreaks of low pathogenic avian influenza were noted in the territory without it being “possible to establish whether this human case is linked to recent avian outbreaks”.

“The current probability of sustained human-to-human spread is low”estimates the WHO

As the WHO explains, “Whenever avian flu viruses circulate in poultry, there is a risk of infection and small outbreaks of human cases due to exposure to infected poultry or contaminated environments”. Also, the authorities specify that “sporadic human cases are therefore not unexpected,” the latter listing viruses A (H5N1)A (H5N6) et A (H5N8) of which human cases have already been reported in the past. However, current research shows that these viruses “have not acquired the capacity to maintain transmission between humans”. Experts therefore believe that currently, “the current likelihood of sustained human-to-human spread is low.”

As a reminder, the WHO recommends that travelers going to a risk area:

  • avoid any contact with animals (farms, markets, etc.);
  • avoid contact with surfaces that may have been contaminated by animal excrement;
  • wash your hands often with soap and water;
  • follow good food safety and food hygiene practices.

Sources :

  • Avian Influenza A (H5N2) – Mexico – World Health Organization (WHO) – 05/06/24
  • AFP
author avatar
Louis Tardy