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Mexico man dies in first H5N2 infection


The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that a man in Mexico died from H5N2, a type of bird flu that has never been found in a person before.

The WHO said on Wednesday that they didn't know how the person got sick. A statement noted that A (H5N2) viruses have been found in poultry in Mexico, but the source of exposure to the virus is currently unknown.

They are watching for changes in the virus that could mean bird flu is changing to make it easier for it to spread to people.

However, on Wednesday, the UN said that the risk of the bird flu virus to people in Mexico is low right now.

WHO said the 59-year-old man who was treated in Mexico City died on April 24 after getting a fever, shortness of breath, diarrhoea, feeling sick, and being in general pain.

Mexico's health ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that there was no proof yet that the man who died had caught bird flu from another person and that he already had several health problems. The report said that he was seen by everyone who tested negative.

In March, Mexico's government said there was a spread of A (H5N2) in a single family in the western state of Michoacán. At the time, they said it did not threaten nearby industrial farms or people's health.

The Mexican government confirmed the presence of the virus after the death in April and told the WHO about it, the agency said.

Three cases of H5N2 in birds were reported in nearby parts of Mexico in March, but the government has yet to determine how they are connected.

Scientists said the case in Mexico has nothing to do with the type of bird flu called H5N1 that has spread to three dairy farm workers in the US.

A history of bird flu cases from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention shows that other types of bird flu have killed people worldwide. For example, 18 people died in China during an outbreak of H5N6 in 2021.

An expert on influenza at Johns Hopkins University, Andrew Pekosz, said that since 1997, H5 viruses have been more likely to attack humans than any other bird influenza virus.

"So it keeps sounding the alarm that we need to be very careful to watch out for these infections because every spillover gives that virus a chance to try to pick up mutations that make it better at infecting humans," he said.

Mammals like seals, raccoons, bears, and cattle have now been found to have caught bird flu from interacting with sick birds.

In May, Australia recorded its first case of A (H5N1) illness in a person, but there were no signs that the disease was spreading. However, it has found more cases of H7 bird flu in birds on farms in the state of Victoria.

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