A woman in eastern China has tested positive for H5N1 bird flu, the strain of bird flu that has spread around the world and has experts worried. The news comes just a week after two people in Cambodia were infected with a similar variant.
The latest case is a 53-year-old woman from Jiangsu province in eastern China, according to the WHO. She developed symptoms on January 31 after being exposed to poultry. Details of his condition have not been released.
Last week, an 11-year-old girl in Cambodia died of H5N1 bird flu after ducks and chickens died suddenly in her home. Her father, a 49-year-old man, tested positive a few days later but did not become seriously ill.
Genetic sequencing carried out in China showed the new case was caused by clade 22.214.171.124b, the same variant that has spread around the world and raised concerns about a possible threat to human health. This distinguishes it from cases in Cambodia, which were caused by clade 126.96.36.199c, an older variant.
Further details about the new case have not been released.
The new variant of H5N1, which appeared at the end of 2021, caused epidemics all over the world, even in countries where avian flu had never been detected. Since then, more than 200 million birds have died or been shot, mostly in Europe and the United States.
The global spread of bird flu has raised concerns about the possibility of a future variant that could lead to human-to-human transmission. Recent cases in mammals — including mink, foxes and sea lions — have heightened those concerns.
“The global H5N1 situation is concerning given the wide spread of the virus in birds around the world and the increase in reported cases in mammals, including humans,” Dr Sylvie Briand said on Friday. WHO official. “WHO takes the risk of this virus seriously and calls on all countries to be more vigilant.”
The World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) echoed these concerns.
“The current situation highlights the risk that the H5N1 avian flu will become more mammalian-friendly and spread to humans and other animals,” the agency said on Feb. 13. “Certain animals, such as mink, can act as mixing vessels for different influenza viruses, leading to the emergence of new strains and subtypes that could be more harmful to animals and/or humans.
A 9-year-old girl in Ecuador tested positive for H5N1 bird flu in January, making it the first such case in South America. She was hospitalized in critical condition but has since recovered. In September 2022, a 38-year-old woman died of H5N1 in Guangxi China after being exposed to backyard poultry.