A 26-year-old woman in Shenzhen has been diagnosed with a human case of H5N6 avian influenza by the Guangdong Health and Family Planning Commission on Tuesday, the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health said.
The patient, who lives in Bao’an, Shenzhen, was in a critical condition and currently hospitalized for treatment, Apple Daily reported. She is fourth human case of the H5N6 infection globally.
Mainland experts said the risk of an outbreak is relatively low.
In Hong Kong, a health department spokesman said local authorities will remain vigilant and work closely with the World Health Organization and relevant health authorities to monitor the latest developments.
Ho Pak-leung, president of the Carol Yu’s Centre for Infection at the University Hong Kong, said the deadly H5N6 virus was first found on animals in 2013 and the first human case was diagnosed last year.
People should avoid getting in contact with poultry and take the same precautions as with the H7N9 virus.
In a study conducted by National Bird Flu Research Laboratory virologist Hualan Chen on 36,417 pigs in slaughterhouses and on farms in 24 mainland provinces from August 2010 to March 2013, 228 flu viruses were isolated.
The researchers subsequently found that 139 of the 228 strains from pigs in 10 provinces in China belong to the EAH1N1 lineage, indicating that “the EAH1N1 is the predominant swine flu virus circulating in pigs in China”.
Chen concluded in her study that the Eurasian avian-like H1N1 (EAH1N1) swine flu viruses, which have circulated in pigs since 1979, have obtained the ability to infect humans and may “pose the highest pandemic threat” among the flu viruses currently circulating in animals.
Meanwhile, Ho said Chen’s study only proved that the H1N1 virus can be transmitted between humans but it does not mean it has been contracted by humans and the public need not overreact.
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