Man in Mexico dies of bird flu strain never before seen in humans, WHO says

The World Health Organization said the risk posed by the H5N2 strain of the virus is low, and that no further human cases have been found.

A man in Mexico has died as a result of catching a strain of bird flu that has never before been found in humans, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.

The WHO said the risk posed by H5N2 strain is low, and that no further human cases have been discovered so far, despite people who came into contact with the virus having been tested.

Mexican officials alerted the WHO that a 59-year-old man who had died in Mexico City hospital had the virus, despite no known exposure to poultry or other animals.

The health organisation said it wasn’t clear how the man became infected, although H5N2 has been reported in poultry in Mexico.

The man’s relatives reported that he had been bedridden for three weeks for other reasons before the onset of the main H5N2 symptoms and already had underlying ailments, including chronic kidney failure, diabetes and high blood pressure.

He then developed a fever, shortness of breath, diarrhoea, nausea and general discomfort.

He was hospitalised a week later but died the same day due to complications.

There are several types of bird flu and H5N2 is not the same strain that has infected multiple dairy cow herds in the US. That strain is called H5N1 and three farmworkers got mild infections after catching the virus.

There are other bird flu varieties that have killed people across the world in previous years, including a woman in China in 2023 who died from H3N8, 18 people in China during an outbreak of H5N6 in 2021, according to a timeline of bird flu outbreaks from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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