Influenza A(H5N6) is now killing humans too

There are several Influenza A viruses circulating at any given moment on mainland China. Science tries to reassure us by maintaining that there are strains that have a low pathogenicity and just a few that have high pathogenicity.

The mantra is that we needn’t worry too much about those Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza (or LPAI) because, while these viruses may infect people, they ‘only cause mild disease, including conjunctivitis and influenza-like illness'.
In 2013 four types of Influenza A Virus - H7N9, H10N8, H6N1 and H9N2 - infected humans for the first time, all in China. About one-fifth of the 419 cases of Influenza A(H7N9) infections proved fatal. Three people contracted Influenza A(H10N8), while a woman in Taiwan was infected with Influenza A(H6N1) but recovered. One person from Hong Kong was infected with Influenza A(H9N2).

Now a 49-year-old man in the Chinese province of Sichuan has died of Influenza A(H5N6) is the first known human infection of this particular strain in the world. The man had been in contact with dead poultry that had the disease. He died after being diagnosed with acute pneumonia.

Experts consider it an isolated case and the risk of human-to-human transmission very low as no one who had been in close contact with the man had shown symptoms[1]. Chen Ze, a professor at the Shanghai Institute of Biological Products, said "The public do not need to worry too much". But Yuen Kwok-yung, a professor of microbiology at the University of Hong Kong, said: "Nobody knows how pathogenic or transmissible it is in humans as it is a different ball game."

[1] China Daily: Risk low for outbreaks of human H5N6 cases (08 May 2014)

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