India reports first case of human death from H5N1 bird flu

Chicken stuck together on a farm
Chicken farm, photo: Canva

An 11-year-old boy has died in India from the H5N1 strain of bird flu, the first case of a human dying from the virus in the country.

The boy lived in Gurgaon outside New Delhi and went to the hospital on July 2. He died ten days later from multiple organ failure, a government statement said.

Health workers treating the patient and the boy’s family have been kept in isolation, and authorities have launched contact tracing, the statement said.

Avian influenza usually only affects birds, but there have been some cases of the virus jumping to humans. Last month, a man in China got infected with the H10N3 strain of bird flu, and in February, the H5N8 strain was detected in humans in Russia.

The Indian ministry said the virus of the H5Nx subtype is considered worrying because they have proven to evolve into highly dangerous strains. The H5, H7 and H10 strains can kill humans.

The H7N9 bird flu strain has killed 619 people since 2013 in China.

India had had devastating bird flu outbreaks in recent decades, most seriously in 2008, when millions of birds were killed.

This year, countries in Europe, Asia and Africa have had bird flu outbreaks. Animal rights activists have long asked to reconsider the bird farming industry to prevent emerging diseases.

So far, the only solution governments have when bird flu is detected is killing all animals around.

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