WHO Reports First Human Death from H5N2 Bird Flu Strain in Mexico

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Wednesday that a man in Mexico has died from a strain of bird flu, H5N2, which had not previously been reported in humans. This development marks the first known human fatality caused by this particular strain of the avian influenza virus. The Hill Report this.

Strain Details and Context: The H5N2 strain differs from the H5N1 strain, which has caused outbreaks among livestock in the U.S. and infected three dairy farm workers. Despite the emergence of H5N2 in a human, the WHO has stated that the current risk to the general population remains “low.”

Case Details: The victim, a 59-year-old man from the State of Mexico, died on April 24, the same day he was hospitalized in Mexico City. According to the WHO, he developed symptoms on April 17, which included fever, shortness of breath, diarrhea, nausea, and general malaise. told by NBC, that The man had “multiple underlying medical conditions” and had been bedridden for three weeks before the onset of acute symptoms. He ultimately died from “complications of his condition.”

Unknown Source of Exposure: The WHO noted that the man had no prior exposure to poultry or other animals, leaving the source of his infection unknown. Mexico has reported cases of H5N2 among its poultry, but the WHO has not established a direct connection between these cases and human infection.

Public Health Response: While this isolated case has raised concerns, health authorities emphasize that the overall risk to the public remains low. The WHO and Mexican health officials are investigating the case to determine the source of the infection and to monitor for any potential spread of the virus.

Comparative Risk Analysis: The emergence of the H5N2 strain in a human is particularly noteworthy given the ongoing issues with H5N1. The H5N1 strain has been more widely documented and poses a significant threat to both animal and human health, leading to culling operations and preventive measures across affected regions. In contrast, this H5N2 case appears to be an isolated incident, with no immediate evidence of widespread transmission. from Fox News

Future Monitoring: The WHO continues to monitor avian influenza strains globally, working with local health departments to track and manage potential outbreaks. The organization advises the public to remain vigilant but reassured that current measures are in place to mitigate widespread infection risks.

This unprecedented human case of H5N2 serves as a reminder of the need for ongoing surveillance and research into avian influenza viruses, which can mutate and jump species barriers, posing potential new threats to public health.