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Mexico Man Dies Of Bird Flu Strain Not Detected In Humans Before, Says WHO

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that a Mexican man died in April from a strain of bird flu (H5N2) that has never been detected in humans. According to The Guardian, on Wednesday, the WHO said it doesn’t know how the man got infected with the virus. 

“Although the source of exposure to the virus in this case is currently unknown, A(H5N2) viruses have been reported in poultry in Mexico,” it said in a statement. Scientists, the report said, are closely monitoring any mutations in the virus that may indicate it’s adapting to spread more easily among humans.

However, the UN agency said the current risk from bird flu virus to the general population is low.

The 59-year-old Mexican man, who suffered from prior health complications, was hospitalised in Mexico City, and died on April 24, after developing a fever, shortness of breath, diarrhoea, nausea and general discomfort, the WHO said, as quoted in a Reuters report. According to the WHO, this marked the first laboratory-confirmed human case of infection with an influenza A(H5N2) virus globally and the first avian H5 virus reported in a person in Mexico.

In a statement, Mexico’s health ministry stated that there had been no evidence of person-to-person transmission of bird flu in the case of the man, and that he had several prior health conditions. Mexico’s health ministry said the person had chronic kidney disease and type 2 diabetes. They tested all the people he was in contact with and they all tested negative. 

Andrew Pekosz, an influenza expert at Johns Hopkins University, told Reuters that how the man was infected was the “big question mark that at least this initial report doesn’t really address thoroughly”.

In May, Australia reported its first human case of A(H5N1) infection, noting there were no signs of transmission, Guardian reported. It has, however, found more poultry cases of H7 bird flu on farms in Victoria state, Reuters reported.

The United States has reported three cases of H5N1 human infection after exposure to cows since an outbreak was detected in dairy cattle in March. Two had symptoms of conjunctivitis, while the third also reported respiratory symptoms.

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