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First Ever H5N6 Death Case Confirmed in China

Update Date: May 07, 2014 09:19 AM EDT

Officials are reporting that the world's first ever human case of the H5N6 bird flu strain was confirmed in China. According to the Sichuan Provincial Health and Family Planning Commission, the 49-year-old man, who was from Nanbu County in Sichuan, passed away this Tuesday.

"To the best of our knowledge, this is the 1st human case of H5N6," ProMED-mail, a reporting system run by the US-based International Society for Infectious Diseases, said reported by Medical Xpress.

The man had sought medical treatment after falling ill and was initially hospitalized for severe pneumonia. His throat swab test came back positive for the H5N6 strain. The officials believe that this case is an isolated one since H5N6 has a low risk of human-to-human transmission. All of the healthcare workers that came into contact with the patient have been monitored and none of them have developed any symptoms.

The officials believe that the man contracted the virus after being in contact with poultry that had died from the same avian flu strain. Taiwan has issued a warning informing travelers in Sichuan province to avoid any contact with live or dead poultry.

"People traveling to Sichuan should take precautions for their health and refrain from coming into contact with fowl, either live or dead," said Chuang Jen-hsiang, deputy director-general of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported by a Taiwan News Agency.

The H5N6 strain has showed up previously in Germany, Sweden and the United States between 1984 to 2013 according to Taiwan officials. None of these cases were in humans. H5N6 is currently categorized as a low-pathogenic bird flu virus and experts believe that it does not pose a huge threat to people's health.

The bird flu has caused many health problems in China. In this year alone, there have been a total of 250 cases with 96 deaths caused by the H7N9 strain. Last year, the same strain was responsible for 144 cases and 46 deaths.

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