Man Dies After Contracting H5N2 Bird Flu In First Recorded Case

While the risk to humans remains low, bird flu is a growing threat around the world


3 Minutes Read

Young chickens in an intensive chicken farm Bird flu has infected farmed chickens all over the planet - Media Credit: Adobe Stock

A man in Mexico has died after contracting H5N2 bird flu, in what is thought to be the first time this strain has affected a human.

Read more: UK Government Urged Not To Approve New Intensive Animal Farms Over Disease Risks

The 59-year-old is said to have had underlying health conditions that made him vulnerable. It is not clear how he contracted the disease, but it has been found in poultry farms in the country. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the man died in April.

Experts have stated that it’s likely he caught it from an infected animal. “At the moment surveillance is taking place, including testing people who may have been exposed to the virus but fought off the infection to see if they show any signs of an immune response,” Dr Ed Hutchinson from the University of Glasgow told the BBC. “If there are more human infections with this virus it would become of wider concern.”

Read more: Walrus Dies Of Bird Flu In First Recorded Case

The man had reportedly been unwell and bedridden for a few weeks before his death. His symptoms included fever and shortness of breath.

Experts have said that the risk to the public in Mexico remains low. There is no evidence of person-to-person transmission, but scientists remain on alert for mutations to the virus.

Bird flu spreads around the world

A farm worker in a hazmat suit handling chickens ridden by bird flu
Adobe Stock People generally catch bird flu after close contact with infected animals

Bird flu, also known as avian flu, is a disease that primarily affects farmed poultry. It is also a growing problem among wild birds and mammals.

There are many different strains of avian flu, and H5N2 is a different strain from the one that’s been spreading in dairy cows and some farm workers in the US (which is known as H5N1). Three dairy farm workers have contracted H5N1 this year, but they have all since recovered.

Other strains have killed humans over the years, including 18 deaths in China during a H5N6 in 2021.

The risk of bird flu to the general public is currently very low, as humans tend to become infected only after close contact with infected animals. There is a risk, however, that the virus could mutate, allowing for person-to-person transmission. The risk of mutations gets higher with every “spillover” infection to humans.

Experts regard bird flu as a significant pandemic risk, and many believe modern farming is to blame. Multiple animal organizations have called for countries to move away from animal farming. In a statement to WHO member states in April, FOUR PAWS urged governments to “drastically reduce and rethink animal farming.”

Read more: More US Bird Flu Cases ‘Likely’ After Second Human Infected By Cows

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