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Patient in Mexico Dies From First Known Human Infection of H5N2 Strain of Bird Flu

Key Takeaways

  • Doctors in Mexico have identified the first known human case of H5N2 bird flu, a different strain from H5N1

  • The 59-year-old patient was already weakened from other health conditions, and died from complications linked to the avian flu

  • None of the person's close contacts appear to be infected

THURSDAY, June 6, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- A 59-year-old person in Mexico is the first human in the world known to be infected with the H5N2 strain of avian flu, and the patient died of complications linked to the illness, the World Health Organization reported Wednesday.

H5N1 and H5N2 strains of avian flu have long circulated among birds, and H5N1 has infected about 900 humans worldwide who've had extended close contact with infected birds or animals.

But this is the first human case of H5N2 known to infect a person. The WHO said that, at this point, just how the person contracted the virus is unknown, although H5N2 is known to circulate in poultry in Mexico.

The person was already in a weakened state, bedridden for three weeks with other underlying medical conditions before developing symptoms of bird flu in mid-April. Those symptoms included fever, shortness of breath, diarrhea, nausea and weakness.

On April 24, the person was hospitalized at the National Institute of Respiratory Diseases in Mexico City, but died of complications that day, the WHO said.

Doctors sent a sample obtained from the patient which was confirmed to be positive for H5N2 by two separate labs.

The virus does not seem to be easily transmitted: Of 17 people who'd had contact with the patient in the hospital, none have become infected.

Twelve more people living near the patient's home were also tested, seven of whom had symptoms, but none tested positive for COVID-19 or any kind of flu. Ongoing blood testing is being conducted to see if any antibodies point to past infections.

The WHO noted that in March, an outbreak of H5N2 had been identified at a poultry farm in a neighboring region, although it's unclear if that outbreak has any connection to the patient's case.

Bird flu has been known to be transmitted to humans from infected animals, and an ongoing outbreak of H5N1 virus in U.S. dairy cows has resulted in three known human cases, all in dairy workers who experienced relatively mild symptoms and recovered.

More information

Find out more about avian flu at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCE: World Health Organization, Disease Outbreak News, June 5, 2024

What This Means For You

Doctors in Mexico have identified the first known case in a human of H5N2 bird flu, a different strain from H5N1. The patient died from complications linked to the illness.

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