Two new cases of avian influenza (type A, H5N6 and H9N2 strains) have recently been reported in Guangxi and Guangdong provinces; one infected individual remains in critical condition as of Thursday, August 23. Chinese health officials have reported at least four other avian influenza cases (of various strains) in humans since October 2017. In addition, there have been at least five outbreaks of avian influenza among poultry in 2018.
In February 2018, the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China (NHFPC) confirmed the first ever case of a human infection with avian influenza type A, H7N4-strain virus.
Avian influenza (commonly known as bird flu) is a communicable disease caused by the infection of a virus found in wild aquatic birds that can be spread to other animals (e.g. domestic poultry). Though seldom spread to humans, avian influenza can be contracted through contact with infected animals or environments contaminated with the virus. Symptoms in humans include eye infection, fever, cough, sore throat, or severe respiratory illness; more virulent forms can result in respiratory failure, multi-organ failure, and even death.
Individuals experiencing the abovementioned symptoms, particularly after contact with poultry or poultry products in affected areas, are advised to seek immediate medical attention. As most cases can be traced to direct or close contact with infected or dead poultry, all those present in China are advised to avoid poultry farms, contact with animals in live food markets, and surfaces that appear contaminated with byproducts from poultry or other animals. Practice good personal hygiene (i.e. wash hands frequently, etc.) and ensure that all poultry or poultry products are properly prepared and thoroughly cooked prior to consumption.
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