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Risk low for outbreaks of human H5N6 cases

Publication Date : 08-05-2014

 

China's first human infection of the bird flu H5N6 virus is an isolated case and the risk for further outbreaks remains low, the top health authority said.

The patient, a 49-year-old man from Nanbu county, Sichuan province, died in a hospital and later was confirmed to have contracted the H5N6 strain, Sichuan Health and Family Planning Commission said on Tuesday.

The victim had been exposed to dead poultry, but people who had close contact with him have so far shown no symptoms, it said.

The local veterinary department has detected H5N6 at a chicken farm in the same county.

As an emergency response, more than 1,300 chickens were culled out to curb potential chicken-to-human transmissions.

The bird flu strain of H5N6, had previously been detected among birds in Germany, Sweden, and the United States, but no human cases were reported.

"At this stage, this appears to be an isolated case," the World Health Organization said. "The patient's close contacts have been under surveillance, and none have developed any symptoms of influenza-like illness. This suggests that the risk of spread is, at this time, very low."

Zhong Nanshan, director of the Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases, urged closer cooperation between the health and agriculture departments, particularly in containing viruses infecting both humans and animals.

Pang Xinghuo, deputy director of the Beijing Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, said places other than Sichuan had all geared up to curb the new threat.

"The regular surveillance over severe flu-like cases has been enhanced for early detection and treatment of H5N6 in the capital," she said.

Since March 2013, China has reported at least 390 human cases of the H7N9 bird flu, including more than 130 deaths, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

Human cases of the bird flu strains of H9N2 and H10N8 were reported in China as well.

Virus spreads

The public was cautioned against an increasing epidemic of hand-foot-and-mouth disease, a contagious viral infection mainly afflicting children under 5 years old.

More than 670,000 cases have been reported this year, up 95 per cent over the same period last year, official statistics showed.

The situation in places like Beijing is even worse.

The capital had reported 7,454 cases as of Sunday, mostly children under 5 years old, Pang said.

"The epidemic is expected to peak from May to September, and more cases including serious and even fatal ones could very likely come," she said.

Enterovirus 71, known as EV71, and coxsackie A16, or CA16, are the pair of culprit viruses for the infection.

Usually, the disease is very mild and no special medicines are needed, Pang added.

 

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