First human death from H5N2 bird flu strain in Mexico confirmed by WHO

Photo: AP

The World Health Organization revealed on Wednesday that a 59-year-old individual in Mexico passed away from bird flu, marking the initial confirmed case of a person being infected with the H5N2 variant.

The victim, who succumbed to the illness on April 24th, exhibited symptoms such as fever, shortness of breath, diarrhea, and nausea. The WHO stated that the individual had no known contact with poultry or other animals and had multiple underlying medical conditions.

Hailing from the State of Mexico, the patient was hospitalized in Mexico City, where they sadly passed away on the same day. This incident represents the first laboratory-confirmed human case of infection with an influenza A(H5N2) virus reported worldwide, as detailed by the WHO.

Mexican health authorities informed the UN health agency of the confirmed case on May 23 following laboratory examinations. While cases of H5N2 have been observed in poultry in Mexico, the source of exposure to the virus remains unidentified.

Even though outbreaks of H5N2 were reported in various locations in Mexico, including a backyard poultry farm in Michoacan state, establishing a direct connection between the human case and the poultry infections has thus far proven difficult. The WHO assessed the risk to the population as “low.”

In a statement, Mexico’s health ministry disclosed that the deceased individual had a history of chronic kidney disease, type 2 diabetes, and severe systemic arterial hypertension. It reassured the public that there is no risk of contagion and that all identified contacts of the patient tested negative for the virus.

Authorities are closely monitoring farms near the victim’s residence and have implemented a continuous surveillance system to promptly identify any other cases in wildlife in the region.

Separately, a different strain of bird flu, H5N1, has been circulating among dairy cow herds in the United States, with a few cases having been reported in humans in recent weeks.