The death of an eleven-year-old boy highlights a new risk for the world’s second most populous nation in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
India is investigating its first documented human death from bird flu after an 11-year-old boy succumbed to the disease earlier this month, the health ministry said.
The boy was admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi on 2 July. He died Tuesday after a multi-organ failure, a government statement said late Wednesday.
Health workers caring for the patient and the child’s family have been kept isolated, and authorities have launched traces of contacts, the statement said.
In Haryana, the child’s native state in northern India, the Department of Animal Husbandry has found no suspected cases of bird flu but has intensified surveillance, he said.
Genome sequencing and virus isolation are on track and an epidemiological investigation has been initiated, the health ministry said.
The boy was living in Gurgaon, on the outskirts of the capital New Delhi, and also suffered from leukemia and pneumonia, a report by the AFP news agency said on Thursday.
Death from the H5N1 strain avian influenza virus highlights a new potential risk for the world’s second most populous nation in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 31 million people and killed more than 400,000.
India has seen more than half a dozen outbreaks of bird flu in poultry in the last 20 years, all of which have been controlled, with no human cases reported in the country before.
Avian influenza is found mainly in birds and poultry. In 2008, millions of poultry were killed in India.
But cases of transmission between humans are very rare.
H5N1 was first discovered in 1997, then split between 2003 and 2011, while H7N9 was first detected in 2013.
Two strains of bird flu, H5N1 and H7N9, first found in 2013, have led to human contamination in Asia due to infected birds.
H7N9 has infected 1,668 people and killed 616 since 2013, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
In the Indian case, the minister said the virus belongs to the H5Nx subtype, considered disturbing since they have tried to evolve into highly dangerous strains.
Last month, China unveiled its first human case of bird flu and in February, Russia detected the disease among workers at a poultry factory.