Not so very long ago we really only had one HPAI virus of genuine concern; H5N1.
But as both LPAI and HPAI viruses like H9N2, the H7s, H6’s, H5’s, and others have comingled in poultry operations and wild birds, and have reassorted and spread, they’ve evolved into new – sometimes highly pathogenic versions.
Recently emerged viruses include H7N9, H5N8, H5N2, H5N3, H5N5, H5N6, H5N9, H6N1, H10N8 . . . .
Prime among these new viral upstarts has been the H5N6 virus, which first came to prominence just one year ago, after it emerged in a Sichuan China poultry flock, and infected (fatally) one man in Nanchong City. Since then we are aware of at least 2 additional human infections (1 in Guangdong Province survived), along with dozens of poultry outbreaks in China and Vietnam.
The last (fatal) human infection was reported in Jan-Feb of this year, and it was in Yunnan Province. Yunnan province has also reported 3 H5N1 human infections in 2015.
Six months after it appeared, we saw an FAO-EMPRES Report On The Emergence And Threat Of H5N6, with our first detailed look at H5N6, along with a short list of other newly emerged HPAI H5 viruses (including H5N8 & H5N3), that presciently warned
Today Hong Kong’s CHP is reporting that they have been notified of another fatal H5N6 infection in Yunnan Province, China. As you’ll see, other that the age, gender, and date of onset and death, details are scant. Still, that’s more than we’ve been getting in recent months on their H7N9 cases.
Issued at HKT 21:10
The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) has been notified by the National Health and Family Planning Commission of a confirmed human case of avian influenza A(H5N6) today (July 11) affecting a 37-year-old woman in Yunnan province.
The patient, presented with fever and cough with sputum since July 6, was admitted to a local hospital on July 9 and died on July 10.
"All novel influenza A infections (including H5N6) are notifiable diseases in Hong Kong," a spokesman for the DH said.
"Locally, we will remain vigilant and work closely with the World Health Organization and relevant health authorities to monitor the latest developments," the spokesman said.
"In view of cases confirmed on the Mainland, members of the public should maintain good personal, food and environmental hygiene at all times during travel," the spokesman urged.
Although it has not spread with the vigor of the recently emerged H5N8 virus (and its reassortant progenies), H5N6 is nonetheless a virus to watch.