International News

Unprecedented Human Case of Bird Flu Strain H5N2 Reported in Mexico

A person in Mexico has died from a strain of bird flu known as H5N2, which has never before been confirmed in a human, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO announced this on Wednesday, revealing details about the unusual case.

Case Details and Symptoms

The patient, a 59-year-old, developed symptoms including fever, shortness of breath, and diarrhea on April 17, following a period of being bedridden for unrelated health issues. Despite no known contact with poultry or other animals, the individual sought hospital care on April 24 and tragically passed away the same day. Initial tests identified an unspecified type of flu, which was later confirmed as H5N2 after several weeks of laboratory analysis.

Background and Comparisons

H5N2 is a bird flu strain that has been detected in poultry in Mexico but has not previously been seen in humans. This strain differs from H5N1, which has affected multiple dairy cow herds in the US and caused mild infections in three farmworkers. Other bird flu strains have resulted in human fatalities worldwide, such as the H5N6 outbreak in China in 2021, which killed 18 people, as documented by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Response and Risk Assessment

Mexican health officials reported the case to the WHO, noting that there had been three poultry outbreaks of H5N2 in nearby regions in March. However, no direct connection to the deceased patient has been established. The WHO stated that the risk to the general population in Mexico remains low, with no further human cases identified despite extensive testing of those who had contact with the patient at home and in the hospital.

Monitoring and Concerns

The occurrence of bird flu in poultry always carries the risk of human infection for those in close proximity to the flocks. Health authorities are vigilantly monitoring for any signs that these viruses might evolve to spread more easily between humans. The increasing infection of mammal species by bird flu viruses is also a growing concern among experts.

The WHO and local health authorities continue to investigate the circumstances of this unprecedented case, ensuring robust monitoring and preventive measures are in place to mitigate further risks.

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