China records first human death from H3N8 bird flu: WHO

Geneva, Apr 12 (EFE).- A Chinese woman infected with H3N8 bird flu has died, making her the first known human to die from the avian influenza strain, the World Health Organization reported on Wednesday.

The 56-year-old woman from the southeastern Guangdong province died on March 16 after being hospitalized with severe pneumonia in February.

“The patient had multiple underlying conditions. She had a history of exposure to live poultry before the onset of the disease, and a history of wild bird presence around her home,” the WHO said in a statement late Tuesday, citing the Chinese health authorities.

“No close contacts of the case developed an infection or symptoms of illness at the time of reporting,” it added.

So far, health studies have shown that the H3N8 bird flu strain does not pass easily between humans, which is why the WHO believes “the risk of it spreading among humans at the national, regional, and international levels is considered to be low.”

But the WHO stressed the importance of global surveillance to detect any changes due to “the constantly evolving nature of influenza viruses.”

The first two cases were reported in China in April and May last year, according to the health agency. Direct or indirect exposure to live poultry was the likely reason behind their infection.

To minimize the risk of contagion, the WHO recommended countries should increase public awareness of avoiding contact with risky environments such as live animal farms and markets, live poultry and surfaces contaminated with animal feces. EFE


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