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Bird flu worries as China reports two deaths after five new H5N6 infections as WHO calls for ‘urgent’ action

China reported two deaths from bird flu after five new H5N6 cases were confirmed as WHO called for “urgent” action.

A spike in bird flu infections in China last year has raised concerns among experts, who warn the strain could be more contagious to humans.

Two people have now died in China from bird flu, while the other three are still being treated in hospital

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Two people have now died in China from bird flu, while the other three are still being treated in hospitalCredit: AFP
Staff giving avian flu vaccine to chickens

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Staff giving avian flu vaccine to chickensCredit: Reuters

The Hong Kong Department of Health said five people in Sichuan province, Zhejiang province and Guangxi Autonomous Region were infected with the strain of bird flu last December.

Two are now dead, while the other three are still in hospital fighting for their lives, officials said in a statement. statement.

A 75-year-old man from Luzhou, Sichuan province fell ill on December 1 after coming into contact with live poultry.

He was taken to the hospital 4 days later and died on December 12.

A 54-year-old man from Leshan in the same province also fell ill on December 8 and died three weeks later on December 24.

He is also believed to have a history of exposure to live poultry in the home.

A 51-year-old woman from Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province subsequently became ill on December 15 after coming into contact with live poultry.

She was taken to hospital on December 18 and authorities said she was in critical condition.

The remaining two cases have been recorded in Liuzhou – a city in the Guangxi Autonomous Region, the Hong Kong Department of Health said.

A 53-year-old man with a history of exposure to dead poultry became ill on 19 December and remains hospitalized in serious condition.

A 28-year-old man from the same city also fell ill on December 23 and is said to be in critical condition.

It was not immediately clear how the second man became infected.

Since 2014, 65 people have been infected with avian influenza H5N6 – but more than half of those have been reported in the past six months.

The WHO says most of the cases have been in contact with poultry and there have been no confirmed cases of human-to-human transmission.

However, they said further investigation is needed to understand the risk and understand the growing number of human cases.

Thijs Kuiken, professor of comparative pathology at Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, previously warned: “The increase in human cases in China this year is concerning. . It’s a highly lethal virus.”

“It could be that this variant is more infectious (to humans) … or maybe there is more of this virus in poultry at the moment and that’s why more people are infected.”

WARNING FOR TRAVELERS ONLY

China is the world’s largest poultry producer and the leading producer of ducks, acting as a reservoir for the influenza virus.

Free-range farms in China are still popular and many people still prefer to buy live chicken at the market.

Although avian influenza viruses continuously circulate in domestic and wild birds, they rarely infect humans.

But the evolution of viruses, which increase as poultry populations grow, is a major concern because they can mutate into a virus that spreads easily between humans and causes pandemics. .

In November last year, British health authorities issued a warning to travelers to China about the risk of bird flu.

Dr Gavin Dabrera, Consultant Acute Respiratory Infections at UKHSA said: “Anyone visiting China should avoid contact with any birds or birds that live in ‘wet markets’. for precaution.

“We continue to encourage people to avoid touching dead or dying birds and to practice good hand hygiene while traveling.

“Avian flu remains a risk in China and if travelers experience any flu-like symptoms within 10 days of returning from China, they should call GP or NHS 111 and report the trip. their recent travel.”

What is bird flu?

Bird flu is a contagious flu that spreads between birds. In rare cases, it can affect people.

There are many different strains of avian influenza viruses, and most of them do not infect humans. But there are four strains that have caused concern in recent years, according to the NHS.

  • H5N1 (since 1997)
  • H7N9 (since 2013)
  • H5N6 (since 2014)
  • H5N8 (since 2016)

Although H5N1, H7N9 and H5N6 are not contagious to humans, a number of people have been infected around the world, resulting in several deaths.

H5N6 has been found in some wild birds in the UK – but this is a different strain from the H5N6 virus that has infected some people in China.

Bird flu is spread by close contact with infected poultry – dead or alive.

This includes:

  • touch infected birds
  • touching feces or bedding
  • kill or process infected poultry for cooking

It’s important to note that you cannot get avian flu from eating fully cooked poultry or eggs, even in areas where avian flu outbreaks are occurring.

If you are visiting a foreign country experiencing an outbreak, you should:

  • frequently wash hands with warm water and soap, especially before and after handling food, especially raw poultry
  • use different utensils to cook and raw meat
  • Make sure the meat is cooked through until slightly hot
  • Avoid contact with live birds and poultry

The main symptoms of bird flu can come on very quickly and include:

  • very high temperature or feeling hot or shivering
  • muscle aches
  • headache
  • cough or difficulty breathing
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https://www.thesun.ie/news/8209675/bird-flu-fears-china-two-deaths-five-new-cases/ Bird flu worries as China reports two deaths after five new H5N6 infections as WHO calls for ‘urgent’ action

Fry Electronics Team

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