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Woman dies of H5N6 bird flu in central China

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Micrograph of avian influenza, also known as bird flu (Credit: CDC/F.A. Murphy)

A woman in central China has died after testing positive for H5N6 bird flu, raising the number of human cases this year to seven, officials say. H5N6 is a strain for which experts have called increased surveillance.

The latest case involves a 33-year-old woman from Bazhong City in Sichuan province, about 1,240 kilometers (770 miles) southwest of Beijing, according to Chinese health officials.

The Chinese government often takes weeks or months to report new cases, which also happened this time.

The woman, whose identity was not released, fell ill on October 22 after visiting a live poultry market. She was admitted to a local hospital two days later and died after weeks of treatment, on November 14.

Only 90 people have ever been diagnosed with H5N6 bird flu since the first confirmed case in 2014, but most cases were found during the past few years. Seven cases were publicly reported this year, all from China.

Click here for a list of all human cases to date.

H5N6 bird flu is known to cause severe illness in humans of all ages and has killed at least 39% of those infected, including children and young adults. The outcome in most of the other cases remains unclear as only nine people are known to have recovered.

There are no confirmed cases of human-to-human transmission though a woman who tested positive in 2021 denied having contact with live poultry.

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