Death of a Mexican Patient is Not Attributable to Aviar Flu: WHO

Veterinarians inspect farm chickens. Photo: X/ @aDiarioCR

June 7, 2024 Hour: 5:42 pm

The death was “multifactorial” and not attributable to the H5N2, WHO spokesperson Lindmeier said.

On Friday, Christian Lindmeier, the spokesperson for the World Health Organization (WHO), clarified that the recent death of a 59-year-old Mexican citizen is not attributable to the H5N2 avian flu, as the patient had other ailments and diseases.


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“It is important to indicate that the death was multifactorial, not attributable to the H5N2 virus,” he said, noting that the patient arrived at the hospital on April 24 after suffering symptoms for weeks.

He died shortly after arriving at the healthcare facility. Subsequently, health professionals conducted tests which showed the man tested positive for the H5N2 virus. The WHO spokesperson also indicated that the investigation of the case is currently ongoing.

However, Lindmeier did not mention whether the results of the investigation would lead to a reassessment of the global avian flu situation, which the WHO currently considers a low epidemiological risk despite the increasing outbreaks in birds and mammals.

The WHO reported the case on June 5. The next day, however, Mexican Health Minister Jorge Alcocer criticized the WHO and denied any direct link between the patient’s death and avian flu.

“The WHO statement is quite poor as it initially speaks of a fatal case. That was not the case as he died from another cause and without a final diagnosis. The statement only indicates that this case is of low risk,” Alcocer said.

Avian influenza is an infectious disease of birds, caused by type A influenza virus strains. These birds can infect humans, though it is not common, with fewer than 1,000 cases recorded worldwide. Human-to-human transmission does not exist so far.

Currently, the virus is only spreading among birds and other animals like seals or cows, which become hosts. Since 2003, the WHO has only recorded 889 cases of avian influenza in humans and 463 deaths caused by the H5N1 strain, which has been known for more than 20 years. The last three human deaths from H5N1 occurred in the United States in April.

The most common way the virus is introduced into a territory is through migratory wild birds. The WHO acknowledged that the spread of the H5N1 variant to mammals and humans is concerning and called for close monitoring of this development.

The main risk factor for human infection is exposure to infected poultry, live or dead, or to contaminated environments, such as live bird markets. Other risk factors include slaughtering, plucking, and handling carcasses of infected poultry, and preparing birds for consumption, particularly in households.

Sources: EFE – WHO


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