A 59-year-old with prior health complications who contracted a subtype of bird flu has died in Mexico City, says the World Health Organization.
Person with first human case of bird flu strain dies in Mexico, WHO confirms
The 59-year-old who had prior health complications and contracted bird flu has died in Mexico City. (Reuters: Dado Ruvic )

A person with prior health complications who contracted the first human case of a subtype of bird flu has died in Mexico City, says the World Health Organization.

The 59-year-old died on April 24 after developing a fever, shortness of breath, diarrhoea, nausea and general discomfort, WHO said in a statement on Wednesday, local time.

WHO said the current risk of bird flu to the general population is low.

It is the first laboratory-confirmed human case of infection with the H5N2 strain of bird flu, also known as avian influenza, reported globally, and the first avian H5 virus reported in a person in Mexico, according to the WHO.

“Although the source of exposure to the virus in this case is currently unknown, A(H5N2) viruses have been reported in poultry in Mexico,” WHO said in a statement.

Mexico’s Health Ministry said the source of infection in the victim from Mexico City had not been identified, but so far no evidence of person-to-person transmission has occurred.

The man had several prior health conditions, the ministry said in a statement, and all people who had contact with him have tested negative.

The victim had no history of exposure to poultry or other animals but had multiple underlying medical conditions and had been bedridden for three weeks, for other reasons, prior to the onset of acute symptoms, the WHO said.

Chickens stick their heads out from cages at a farm.

Australian health officials are closely monitoring bird flu outbreaks at poultry farms in Victoria and Western Australia. (Reuters: Mariana Nedelcu)

Mexico’s Health Ministry said the person had chronic kidney disease and type 2 diabetes.

“That immediately puts a person at risk of more severe influenza, even with seasonal flu,” said Andrew Pekosz, an influenza expert at Johns Hopkins University.

Last week Victorian health officials confirmed Australia’s first human case of one particular strain of the bird flu, H5N1 avian influenza, which was detected in a child travelling home to Victoria from India.

The same strain, which scientists also say is unrelated to the case in Mexico, has so far infected three dairy farm workers in the US.

Cows stick their heads through a fence to eat feed from the ground

Avian influenza has been detected in dairy herds across nine US states.   (Reuters: Jim Vondruska)

US nearing deal to fund bird flu vaccine, report says

The US government is nearing an agreement to fund a late-stage trial of Moderna’s mRNA bird flu vaccine, the Financial Times reported.

Moderna told Reuters it was in discussions with the government on advancing its vaccine candidate, but did not confirm the funding.

The company said it was testing the experimental shot, mRNA-1018, against several strains of the virus — including the currently circulating H5N1 variant.

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