2-year-old girl diagnosed with H5N1 in Australia


The first ever H5N1 bird flu has been confirmed in Australia in a 2.5-year-old girl. The girl has now recovered after treatment in intensive care.

WHO reported in a statement that they had been notified of a lab-confirmed case of H5N1 on May 22nd, in Australia. The patient was 2.5 years old. Moreover, she was travelling to Kolkata, India, with her family between February 12th and February 29th. The girl was taken to the hospital soon after arriving back in Australia with worsening symptoms. The doctors transferred her to the intensive care unit in Melbourne where she was treated for one week.

The patient was discharged from the hospital after two and a half weeks of treatment, and she is now reported to be doing well.

While still in India, the girl developed fever, cough, and vomiting, for which a doctor recommended paracetamol. When the family returned to Australia, they did not alert immigration authorities about her sickness.

The girl did not have any interaction with sick people or animals while in India, and none of her known contacts have acquired any symptoms. Therefore, it is suggested that this is a unique instance. After being notified of the virus, India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched an investigation, albeit the amount of time since the girl was infected may make it difficult to pinpoint the cause.

Amesh Adalja, infectious disease expert, said,

H5N1 viruses do not transmit efficiently between humans, and I suspect there’s an occult animal exposure that led to the infection,

Moreover, in the past, this specific virus strain has been known to circulate in Southeast Asia.

WHO maintains that the current risk is low in the general population. However, human bird flu is of great interest to health authorities. Hence, it is vital to keep a close eye on the virus in case of signs of mutations. These mutations can make the transmission between humans more likely.


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