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Published On: Tue, May 3rd, 2016

H5N6 avian influenza reported in Anhui province, 13th human case in China since 2014

The Chinese National Health and Family Planning Commission reported today on an additional human case of avian influenza A(H5N6) in Anhui.

photo wattpublishing www.WATTAgNet.com. via Flickr

photo wattpublishing www.WATTAgNet.com. via Flickr

The case involves an 65-year-old woman who lives in Xuancheng, Anhui.  With history of poultry contact before onset, the patient developed symptoms on April 24 and was admitted to a local hospital on April 27. She is now in critical condition.

From 2014 to date, a total of 13 human cases of avian influenza A(H5N6) have been reported by the Chinese health authorities.

Avian influenza is caused by those influenza viruses that mainly affect birds and poultry, such as chickens or ducks. Clinical presentation of avian influenza in humans includes eye infection (conjunctivitis), flu-like symptoms (e.g. fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches) or severe respiratory illness (e.g. chest infection).

The incubation period ranges from 7 to 10 days. The more virulent forms can result in respiratory failure, multi-organ failure and even death. People mainly become infected with avian influenza through close contact with infected birds and poultry (live or dead) or their droppings.

Human-to-human transmission is inefficient. People in close contact with poultry are more susceptible to contracting avian flu. The elderly, children and people with chronic illness have a higher risk of developing complications such as bronchitis and chest infection.

The public should remain vigilant and take heed of the advice to prevent avian influenza below:

* Do not visit live poultry markets and farms. Avoid contact with poultry, birds and their droppings;
* If contact has been made, thoroughly wash hands with soap;
* Avoid entering areas where poultry may be slaughtered and contact with surfaces which might be contaminated by droppings of poultry or other animals;
* Poultry and eggs should be thoroughly cooked before eating;
* Wash hands frequently with soap, especially before touching the mouth, nose or eyes, handling food or eating; after going to the toilet or touching public installations or equipment (including escalator handrails, elevator control panels and door knobs); and when hands are dirtied by respiratory secretions after coughing or sneezing;
* Cover the nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing, hold the spit with a tissue and put it into a covered dustbin;
* Avoid crowded places and contact with fever patients; and
* Wear masks when respiratory symptoms develop or when taking care of fever patients.

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