WHO Confirms First Human to Die From This Bird Flu Strain

white broiler chicken in a cage for meat business

A Mexican man died from an H5N2 strain of bird flu, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). This strain had never been recorded in humans before. 

This virus differs from the H5N1 avian flu virus that has infected three dairy farm workers and created an epidemic in animals in the United States. Virus danger to the Mexican population is now “low.”

Complications from the 59-year-old Mexican man’s health led to his death on April 17, after he had been bedridden for several weeks prior. According to the World Health Organization, he had no history of contact with chickens or any other animals, and the exact way he contracted the virus is still a mystery. There have been further occurrences of H5N2 in Mexico’s poultry, but the World Health Organization has not been able to link them to the human case.

The Mexican health ministry released a statement on Wednesday clarifying that the deceased man had a number of preexisting problems and that there is currently no proof of bird flu transmission from person to person. Nobody who came into touch with him has tested positive. A(H5N2) was detected in March by the Mexican government in a single household in the western state of Michoacan; however, no danger to human health or distant commercial farms was deemed to exist at that time. Mexican authorities submitted the case to the WHO after confirming the presence of the virus following the April death.

Virus mutations that increase the virus’s ability to infect people have scientists on high alert. In other years, humans have been killed by different types of bird flu all around the globe. In 2021, for example, an outbreak of H5N6 in China killed 18 people. Since 1997, H5 viruses have consistently demonstrated a greater tendency to infect mammals compared to other avian influenza viruses.

Despite the lack of evidence of transmission, Australia announced the first human case of A(H5N1) illness in May. 

Since the individual had no prior exposure to chickens or other animals, experts remain unsure of the exact means by which he contracted the virus.