China reported two new human cases of H5N6 bird flu

Two more people in mainland China have tested positive for the H5N6 bird flu virus, officials said, bringing the number of cases reported this month to eight. The recent rise in human cases has led to calls for increased surveillance.

The Hong Kong Department of Health said in a statement that it had received notification of two additional cases of people in Sichuan and Zhejiang provinces. Both cases occurred earlier this month, but local officials did not immediately announce.

The first case, a 68-year-old man from Langzhong in Sichuan Province, fell ill on January 3 and was transferred to a local hospital the next day, where he remains in critical condition. There was no information on how he was injured.

The second case is a 55-year-old woman from Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, who fell ill on January 6 after being slaughtered. She was admitted to the district hospital on January 9 and remains in critical condition.

Only 67 people have been infected with H5N6 bird flu since the first confirmed case in 2014, but more than half have been reported within the past six months. Eight cases, including two deaths, have been reported so far this year.

Click here for a list of all human cases to date.

According to the World Health Organization, H5N6 avian influenza is known to cause serious illness in humans of all ages and kills nearly half of those infected. There are no confirmed cases of human-to-human transmission, but a woman who tested positive last year denied contact with live poultry.

«The increasing trend of human infection with avian influenza virus has become an important public health issue that cannot be ignored,» researchers said in a study published in China by the CDC in September. The study highlighted several mutations in two recent cases of H5N6 avian influenza.

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Thijs Kuiken, professor of comparative pathology at Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, expressed concern about the growing number of cases. «This alternative may be more contagious (to people)…or there may be more of this virus in poultry at the moment and that’s why more people are infected,» Koiken told Reuters in October.

Earlier that month, a WHO spokesperson said the risk of human-to-human transmission remained low because H5N6 had not acquired the ability to continuously transmit between humans. However, the spokesperson added that increased surveillance is «urgently needed» in order to better understand the growing number of human cases.

Olga Dmitrieva

Любитель алкоголя. Возмутитель спокойствия. Интроверт. Студент. Любитель социальных сетей. Веб-ниндзя. Поклонник Бэкона. Читатель

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