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New Bird Flu Strain Currently Circulating In China Causes ‘Concern’; New Variant Might Be Deadlier

A health worker sprays sanitizer outside a house as a precautionary measure against the bird flu in Sola area, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on March 5, 2021. (Photo by SAM PANTHAKY/AFP via Getty Images)

Experts are concerned about a new bird flu outbreak among Chinese citizens. They warned that the new strain might be deadlier than a previously circulating type.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has received 21 reports of human illnesses with the H5N6 type of avian flu this year from China. According to a Reuters report, the nation only had five cases of avian influenza strain in 2020.

Volunteers wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as a precaution against the spread of bird flu treat an injured rescued bird at a temporary shelter in Ahmedabad on January 13, 2021. (Photo by SAM PANTHAKY/AFP via Getty Images)

Sichuan province was the epicenter of the latest outbreak. Infections have also been reported in Chongqing, Guangxi, Guangdong, Anhui, and Hunan.

Avian influenza, sometimes known as bird flu, is most commonly seen in wild aquatic birds. It may, however, infect domestic fowl as well as other animals. Humans are seldom infected with it.

Thijs Kuiken, professor of comparative pathology at Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterda, said in the same Reuters report that the rise in human cases in China this year is concerning. He went on to say that the virus has a high death rate.

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Bird Flu Spreading In China, Laos

Many individuals have been dangerously sick as a result of recent infections. As of Tuesday, six people have died from the H5N6 virus. The majority of the illnesses were reported in persons who had been in contact with poultry. There is yet to be an instance of human-to-human transmission reported by health authorities.

After testing positive for the H5N6 avian flu on Oct. 13, a 60-year-old lady from Changde, Hunan Province, China, was hospitalized for treatment. The farmer’s symptoms initially appeared on Oct. 3, according to a statement made by the Hong Kong Health Department on Oct. 18.

According to a China Global Television Network report, a 55-year-old male from Sichuan province was admitted to hospital after he got positive for H5N6 avian influenza on Jul. 6.

The report did not say if the man’s profession required him to handle chickens. It was also unclear if the virus had infected any of the man’s family members or close associates.

In Laos, the first human infection with the H5N6 strain of avian flu was discovered in 2014. Since 2014, there have been 49 occurrences of human infection with H5N6 as of Oct. 26. According to a WHO study released on Oct. 22, at least half of the cases have ended in death.

China is the world’s largest poultry producer and the leading producer of ducks. While the nation has had H5N6 infections in humans, no outbreaks in poultry have been recorded since February 2020.

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