WHO detects human case of bird flu in West Bengal, four-year-old child infected with H9N2 virus

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The World Health Organization (WHO) on June 11 announced that a case of human infection with the H9N2 bird flu virus was identified in a four-year-old child in West Bengal, according to a Reuters report.

The child was admitted to a local hospital’s paediatric intensive care unit (ICU) in February, due to severe respiratory issues, high fever, and abdominal cramps, it said. After three months of diagnosis and treatment, the patient was discharged.

Exposure and Contacts

The WHO reported that the child had been exposed to poultry at home and nearby. No respiratory illness symptoms were observed among family members and other close contacts, the report added.

Details regarding the child’s vaccination status and antiviral treatment were not available at the time of reporting.

Second Case in India

This is the second reported human case of H9N2 bird flu in India, the first being in 2019.

Although the H9N2 virus usually causes mild illness, the WHO noted that more sporadic human cases could occur. The virus remains prevalent among poultry in various regions.

There was no immediate response from the Indian health ministry during late hours.

Australia Bird Flu Outbreak: Supermarket Limits Eggs Buying

Meanwhile, in Australia, supermarket chain Coles has imposed a limit of two cartons of eggs per day per customer in all states, except Western Australia. This measure aims to counter the spread of avian influenza virus, according to a Bloomberg report.

Agriculture Minister Murray Watt on June 10 reassured that Australian eggs are safe to consume, and there is no risk of contaminated eggs entering the supply chain.

The decision follows the detection of the highly pathogenic H7N3 strain of avian influenza at a fifth farm in Victoria last week. Over half a million chickens have been euthanized in the state, and around 450,000 eggs are being destroyed daily to contain the virus, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Quarantine zones have been established to restrict the movement of birds, feed, and equipment near the affected farms since the first cases were detected last month. 

Worldwide Bird Flu Cases

A man in Mexico died last week after contracting the H5N2 bird flu, a strain not previously confirmed in humans.

H7N3 is different from the H5N1 strain of bird flu, which has caused significant damage to wild bird and mammalian species globally in recent years but has not been found in Australia. In March, H5N1 was reported in dairy cows in the US, contaminating milk supplies and causing non-serious eye infections in two farm workers.

(With inputs from Reuters and Bloomberg)

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