The Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health reports monitoring a human case of avian influenza A(H5N6) in Mainland China.
The case involves a 68-year-old man living in Huizhou in Guangdong Province, who kept poultry at home. He developed symptoms on December 3 and was admitted for treatment on December 7. The patient is in critical condition.
This is the 28th human case reported on the Mainland in the past year.
From 2014 to date, 53 human cases of avian influenza A(H5N6) have been reported by Mainland health authorities.
Avian influenza is caused by those influenza viruses that mainly affect birds and poultry, such as chickens or ducks. Clinical presentation of avian influenza in humans may range from flu-like symptoms (e.g. fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches) to severe respiratory illness (e.g. chest infection). Eye infection (conjunctivitis) and gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g. nausea, vomiting and diarrhea) have also been reported. The incubation period ranges from 7 to 10 days. The more virulent forms can result in respiratory failure, multi-organ failure and even death.
People mainly become infected with avian influenza virus through contact with infected birds and poultry (live or dead) or their droppings, or contact with contaminated environments (such as wet markets and live poultry markets). Human-to-human transmission is inefficient. People in close contact with poultry are more susceptible to contracting avian influenza. The elderly, children and people with chronic illness have a higher risk of developing complications such as bronchitis and chest infection.