Deadly H5 Avian Flu Hits China, One Fatality Reported; Virus also in France, Nigeria, Taiwan

January 8
5:47 AM 2016

The deadly H5N6 avian flu virus has struck China recently, with one fatality already reported. The virus affected individuals that worked with live poultry or had visited live poultry markets.

Three of the cases were found in Guangdong, with the first one reported on December 15 with a 58-year old man from the Panyu district. Contracting the virus after buying a chicken at a wet market, he recovered after a month of treatment. Another case involved a 40-year-old pregnant woman from Zhaoqing, diagnosed on January 1.

The report of the fatal H5N6 case was of a 26-year-old woman from Shenzhen's Baoan district who was diagnosed on December 29. She had bought a duck from a live wet market and died on December 30. The other cases were in Sichuan and Yunnan provinces.

The South China Morning Post reported that local officials have said that the virus has not mutated into a form that can transmit between humans. He Jianfeng, the spokesman for the Guangdong Provincial Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, has publicly made an announcement saying that citizens should stop buying freshly slaughtered poultry.

H5N6 has, so far, only been found in China, but other strains of the virus have been found in other parts of the world.  The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy stated that there have been outbreaks of the H5 avian flu in France, Nigeria, and Taiwan.

France has detected a highly pathogenic H5N1 strain, along with H5N2 and H5N9. There have been 66 total outbreaks so far in the European country. Nigeria has also been hit by the H5N1 strain at four poultry farms. The virus killed 7,973 birds at one of the farms, with the authorities killing the remaining ones to stop the spread of the virus.

Taiwan has reported 10 more H5 virus outbreaks from December, with the reports involving the H5N2 virus and the H5N8 virus. The H5N2 virus and H5N8 virus killed 6,050 and 1,608 birds, respectively. The rest of the flocks were killed in order to prevent any further spread of the bird flu.

The World Health Organization has said that transmissions of the bird flu to humans are still uncommon, with cases only happening when directly exposed to infected poultry or an already contaminated environment, as reported by CBCNews. The WHO also stated that there has been no evidence of sustained transmission between human of the bird flu.

As long as they're cooked properly, to kill all risk of infection, poultry will be safe to eat. But those who handle live poultry or slaughter them at home should be wary of the H5 virus that is appearing in different parts of the world. 

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