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Health. WHO confirms bird flu in humans – a 4-year-old child

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The World Health Organization reported on Tuesday a case of human infection with the bird flu virus – H9N2. The patient is a 4-year-old child who was admitted to hospital with serious breathing problems.

The patient diagnosed with the disease is a 4-year-old child from the Indian state of West Bengal. On January 26 this year, she went to a pediatrician with fever and abdominal pain. On January 29, he was brought to the same doctor because he was suffering from convulsions. Despite treatment, the disease progressed. On February 1, the child was admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) of a local hospital due to severe respiratory failure, high fever and persistent abdominal pain. He was diagnosed with viral pneumonia, and the test confirmed influenza B and adenovirus. She spent the entire month of February in the hospital, but three days after being discharged – on March 3, she was admitted to another hospital – this time a government hospital, to the children's ward, where she was intubated.

Two days later, a swab of the patient's nose and throat was sent to the Virus Research and Diagnostics Laboratory in Kolkata. The presence of influenza A virus was confirmed there (no subtype determined). The same sample was also sent to the National Influenza Center at the National Institute of Virology in Pune. There, on April 26, the sample was classified as influenza A (H9N2), i.e. bird flu.

SEE ALSO: Bloody grilled beef? Scientists warn against bird flu

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A case of bird flu in humans

The child was discharged from the hospital on May 1, but required respiratory support. As WHO writes in its report, they had contact with poultry at home and in its surroundings. At the time of the onset of his illness, there were no other people reporting symptoms of respiratory diseases, neither in his family, nor in his neighborhood, nor among health care workers in the facilities to which the patient was admitted.

This is the second human infection with avian influenza A (H9N2) virus reported to WHO from India. The first one took place in 2019. The organization emphasizes that infection in humans occurs mainly as a result of direct contact with infected animals. Infection with the bird flu virus in humans can cause various consequences – from mild upper respiratory tract infection, conjunctivitis, gastrointestinal symptoms, to severe cases that may result in death.

According to international health protection regulations, each such case is potentially dangerous to public health, therefore it must be reported to WHO. However, based on available evidence, the organization assesses the current public health risk posed by the virus to the general population as low.

SEE ALSO: The virus attacks more species. WHO on 'tremendous concerns'

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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