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New Influenza Virus H5N6
12.05.2014 12:11
New Influenza Virus H5N6

The shedding of a new influenza virus H5N6 with the first death case from it being registered in China is unlikely, but the recurrence of such episodes is possible, as the scientific secretary of the FGBI Research Institute of Influenza of the  Russian Ministry of Health, the Candidate of Medical Sciences Tamara Lobova considers.

      Previously this virus was only observed in birds. The only case of transmission of the virus to a human was registered in the Chinese city of Nanchong, where it killed a 49-year-old man, afterwards the laboratory tests confirmed that the virus was H5N6. He died after having contact with poultry, as the Committee on Health and Family Planning in Sichuan Province reported.

      “There are chances that it will happen again, because people will contact the birds, and the birds will be ill. Perhaps there were such cases previously, but there was no diagnosis. This case is just the first recorded, laboratory-confirmed one. As a rule, such diseases do not get spread” - Lobova said. She noted that, in particular, it has not been proven that the avian influenza virus H5N1 widely circulating previously is spread from person to person. Lobova reported that the Research Institute of Influenza developed a vaccine against the H5N1 virus, and if necessary it will suit the persons infected with the H5N6 virus.

      China's first human infection of the bird flu H5N6 virus is an isolated case and the risk for further outbreaks remains low, the top health authority said. The patient, a 49-year-old man from Nanbu county, Sichuan province, died in a hospital and later was confirmed to have contracted the H5N6 strain, Sichuan Health and Family Planning Commission said on Tuesday. The victim had been exposed to dead poultry, but people who had close contact with him have so far shown no symptoms, it said. The local veterinary department has detected H5N6 at a chicken farm in the same county.  As an emergency response, more than 1,300 chickens were culled out to curb potential chicken-to-human transmissions.

      The bird flu strain of H5N6, had previously been detected among birds in Germany, Sweden, and the United States, but no human cases were reported. "At this stage, this appears to be an isolated case," the World Health Organization said. "The patient's close contacts have been under surveillance, and none have developed any symptoms of influenza-like illness. This suggests that the risk of spread is, at this time, very low." Zhong Nanshan, director of the Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases, urged closer cooperation between the health and agriculture departments, particularly in containing viruses infecting both humans and animals. Pang Xinghuo, deputy director of the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said places other than Sichuan had all geared up to curb the new threat. "The regular surveillance over severe flu-like cases has been enhanced for early detection and treatment of H5N6 in the capital," she said. Since March 2013, China has reported at least 390 human cases of the H7N9 bird flu, including more than 130 deaths, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission. Human cases of the bird flu strains of H9N2 and H10N8 were reported in China as well.

      Virus spreads

      The public was cautioned against an increasing epidemic of hand-foot-and-mouth disease, a contagious viral infection mainly afflicting children under 5 years old. More than 670,000 cases have been reported this year, up 95 percent over the same period last year, official statistics showed. The situation in places like Beijing is even worse. The capital had reported 7,454 cases as of Sunday, mostly children under 5 years old, Pang said. "The epidemic is expected to peak from May to September, and more cases including serious and even fatal ones could very likely come," she said. Enterovirus 71, known as EV71, and coxsackie A16, or CA16, are the pair of culprit viruses for the infection. Usually, the disease is very mild and no special medicines are needed, Pang added.



Author: Anna Dorozhkina

Tags: influenza virus    

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