Thursday June 20, 2024

First human case of H5N2 died from multiple factors: WHO

June 08, 2024
A sign of the World Health Organization (WHO) at their headquarters in Geneva. — AFP/File
A sign of the World Health Organization (WHO) at their headquarters in Geneva. — AFP/File

GENEVA: A man infected with H5N2 bird flu, the first confirmed human infection with the strain, died from multiple factors, the WHO said on Friday, adding that investigations were ongoing.

The World Health Organisation announced on Wednesday that the first laboratory-confirmed human case of infection with H5N2 avian influenza virus had been reported from Mexico.

Mexico´s health ministry said the 59-year-old man had “a history of chronic kidney disease, type 2 diabetes (and) long-standing systemic arterial hypertension”.

He had been bedridden for three weeks prior to the onset of acute symptoms, developing fever, shortness of breath, diarrhoea, nausea and general malaise on April 17.

The man was taken to hospital in Mexico City on April 24 and died later that day.

“The death is a multi-factorial death, not a death attributable to H5N2,” WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told a media briefing in Geneva on Friday.

“The patient came to the hospital after weeks of multi-factorial background of multi other diseases.”

His body was subsequently routinely tested for flu and other viruses, and H5N2 was detected, Lindmeier said.

Seventeen contacts of the case in the hospital were identified. All tested negative for influenza.

In the man´s place of residence, 12 contacts in the weeks beforehand were identified. All likewise tested negative.

“Investigations are ongoing. Serology is ongoing. That means the blood testing of contacts to see if there was any possible earlier infection,” said Lindmeier.

“At this point in time, as its multi-factorial, it´s a multi-factorial death.

“But the infection of H5N2 is being investigated to see whether he was infected by somebody visiting or by any contact with any animals before.”

The WHO said on Wednesday the source of exposure to the virus was currently unknown, though H5N2 viruses have been reported in poultry in Mexico.

Based on available information, the United Nations´ health agency assesses the current risk to the general population posed by the virus as low.

Markus Lipp, senior food safety officer at the UN´s Food and Agriculture Organisation, explained why the risk of contracting avian influenza though eating poultry was “negligibly low”.

“In all the hundred years of avian influenza... there has not been any demonstrated food-borne transmission,” he told the briefing, via video-link from the FAO´s headquarters in Rome.