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China reports first fatal human case of bird flu – WHO

by Haruna Gimba
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By Asmau Ahmad

China has notified the World Health Organisation (WHO), that a woman infected with the H3N8 bird flu died in March.

The case, which is only the third known human case ever and the first to result in death from the strain, the two previous cases were reported in China last April and May, the WHO said.

In the latest incident, a 56-year-old woman from south-eastern Guangdong province died on March 16 after falling ill in February and being hospitalised for severe pneumonia.

“The patient had multiple underlying conditions. She had a history of exposure to live poultry before the onset of the disease, and a history of wild bird presence around her home,’’ the UN health body said, citing information from China’s National Health Commission.

None of her close contacts have developed an infection or symptoms of illness.

The WHO said a poultry market near her residence could have been the source of her infection.

Samples collected from the market were positive for influenza A(H3) subtype.

In the two previous cases, one patient developed a critical illness and the older had mild symptoms. The WHO said direct or indirect exposure to infected poultry was the likely origin.

The WHO said the risk to humans remained low.

“The available epidemiological and virological information suggests that avian influenza A(H3N8) viruses does not have the capacity for sustained transmission among humans.

Therefore, the current assessment is that the likelihood of human-to-human spread is low.

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