Over the weekend China reported its 4th human infection with the recently emerged HPAI H5N6 virus (see Fatal H5N6 Case: Yunnan, China), the second such case from Yunnan Province this year. The patient was described as a 37-year-old woman who developed symptoms on July 6th, checked into a hospital on the 9th, and died on the 11th.
None of the usual epidemiological details - her profession, any recent exposure to birds (alive or dead), or of concurrent outbreaks of H5N6 in local poultry - were mentioned in the initial report.
The first three cases were all reported as having had recent exposure to either live poultry or dead wild fowl, and both Sichuan and Guangdong provinces reported H5N6 in local poultry around the time of their human infections.
Today the World Health Organization has posted an update on this case that unfortunately, doesn’t add a whole lot to what we already knew.
Disease outbreak news
14 July 2015
On 11 July 2015, the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) of China notified WHO of 1 laboratory-confirmed case of human infection with an avian influenza A(H5N6) virus.
Details of the case
A 37-year-old female from Shangri-La City, Yunnan Province developed symptoms on 6 July. She was admitted to hospital on 9 July and, despite medical treatment, died on 10 July. On 11 July, a specimen from the patient was tested by Yunnan Provincial CDC and the result was positive for avian influenza A(H5N6).
Public health response
The Chinese Government has taken the following surveillance and control measures:
- Collecting and testing the specimens of the patient, and carrying out viral isolation;
- Conducting epidemiological investigation; tracing, managing and observing the close contacts of the patient;
- Strengthening surveillance of unexplained pneumonia and routine sentinel surveillance of influenza; strengthening the etiological surveillance of influenza/avian influenza virus.
WHO continues to closely monitor the influenza A(H5N6) situation and conduct risk assessments. So far, the overall risk associated with avian influenza A(H5N6) viruses has not changed.
WHO advises that travellers to countries with known outbreaks of avian influenza should avoid poultry farms, or contact with animals in live bird markets, or entering areas where poultry may be slaughtered, or contact with any surfaces that appear to be contaminated with faeces from poultry or other animals. Travellers should also wash their hands often with soap and water. Travellers should follow good food safety and good food hygiene practices.
WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event, nor does it currently recommend any travel or trade restrictions. As always, a diagnosis of infection with an avian influenza virus should be considered in individuals who develop severe acute respiratory symptoms while travelling or soon after returning from an area where avian influenza is a concern.
WHO encourages countries to continue strengthening influenza surveillance, including surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and to carefully review any unusual patterns, in order to ensure reporting of human infections under the IHR (2005), and continue national health preparedness actions.