The death of an 11-year-old boy highlights the new risks of the world’s second most populous country fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
The Ministry of Health of India said that after an 11-year-old boy died of bird flu earlier this month, India is investigating its first recorded human death from bird flu.
The boy was admitted to the leading All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi on July 2. Late Wednesday, a government statement stated that he died on Tuesday after multiple organ failure.
The statement said that the health workers treating the patient and the boy’s family have been quarantined, and the authorities have initiated contact tracing.
In the boy’s hometown of Haryana in northern India, the animal husbandry department has not found any suspected cases of avian influenza, but has stepped up surveillance.
The Ministry of Health stated that genome sequencing and virus isolation are in progress, and an epidemiological investigation has been initiated.
Agence France-Presse reported on Thursday that the boy lives in Gurgaon on the outskirts of the capital New Delhi and also suffers from leukemia and pneumonia.
The deaths caused by the H5N1 avian influenza virus highlight the potential new risks of the world’s second most populous country in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 31 million people and caused more than 400,000 deaths.
In the past 20 years, India has had more than six outbreaks of avian influenza in poultry, all of which have been brought under control. No human cases have been reported in the country before.
Bird flu mainly occurs in birds and poultry. In 2008, India slaughtered millions of poultry.
But cases of human-to-human transmission are extremely rare.
H5N1 first broke out in 1997 and then spread between 2003 and 2011, while H7N9 was first discovered in 2013.
Two bird flu viruses, H5N1 and H7N9, first discovered in 2013, caused human infections in Asia by infecting birds.
According to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, H7N9 has infected 1,668 people and caused 616 deaths since 2013.
The ministry stated that in the case of India, the virus belongs to the H5Nx subtype, which is worrying because they have been shown to have evolved into highly dangerous strains.
Last month, China announced its first human case of avian influenza, and in February, Russia detected the disease among workers at a poultry factory.