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World's first bird flu death recorded in China

In the first known human fatality from the avian influenza strain, a woman has died from H3N8 bird flu in China, according to the World Health Organisation this week.

H3N8 has been circulating since 2002 after first emerging in North American waterfowl, and has also been linked to the infection of horses, dogs and seals.

However, reports News24, it had not been detected in humans before two previous non-fatal cases emerged – both in China – in April and May last year.

The WHO said the woman (56), from Guangdong province, fell ill on 22 February, was hospitalised for severe pneumonia on 3 March, and died on 16 March.

She had multiple underlying conditions, according to the health agency, and a history of exposure to live poultry before the onset of the disease as well as a history of wild bird presence around her home.

While exposure to a live poultry market may have caused the infection, “it is still unclear what the exact source of this infection is and how this virus is related to other avian influenza A(H3N8) viruses circulating in animals”, the WHO said, calling for further animal and human investigations.

Of the two cases last year, one developed a critical illness, while the other had a mild illness. The WHO said both cases were probably related to direct or indirect exposure to infected poultry.

It added that animal flu infections could result in diseases ranging from conjunctivitis or mild flu-like symptoms to severe acute respiratory disease or even death. Gastrointestinal or neurological symptoms had also been reported, but these are rare.

 

News24 article – First H3N8 bird flu death recorded in China (Open access)

 

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