The World Health Organization (WHO) reports the first human case of avian influenza A(H5N6) virus infection has been reported in Laos.
A five-year-old boy from Luang Prabang province in northern Laos developed symptoms on 28 February 2021, was hospitalized and tested positive for A(H5N6) on 8 March 2021. The boy recovered. He had exposure to poultry. The poultry tested positive for H5N6. None of the contacts at home or in the hospital had the disease.
This is the first avian influenza A(H5N6) case reported to WHO from Lao PDR. To date, a total of 31 laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with influenza A(H5N6) virus have been reported (30 in China and 1 in Laos).
Avian influenza is caused by those influenza viruses that mainly affect birds and poultry, such as chickens or ducks.
Clinical presentation of avian influenza in humans includes eye infection (conjunctivitis), flu-like symptoms (e.g. fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches) or severe respiratory illness (e.g. chest infection). The incubation period ranges from 7 to 10 days.
The more virulent forms can result in respiratory failure, multi-organ failure and even death. People mainly become infected with avian influenza virus through contact with infected birds and poultry (live or dead) or their droppings, or contact with contaminated environments (such as wet markets and live poultry markets). Human-to-human transmission is inefficient.
People in close contact with poultry are more susceptible to contracting avian influenza. The elderly, children and people with chronic illness have a higher risk of developing complications such as bronchitis and chest infection.