Toddler Contracts H5N1 Bird Flu in India, Receives Intensive Care in Australia

COVID-19 omicron strain

A two-and-a-half-year-old girl tested positive for H5N1 bird flu after traveling to India and required intensive care treatment in Australia, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Friday.

“This is the first confirmed human infection caused by avian influenza A(H5N1) virus detected and reported in Australia,” the WHO stated.

“Although the source of exposure to the virus in this case is currently unknown, the exposure likely occurred in India,” where the girl had traveled. This group of “viruses has been detected in birds there in the past,” the UN health agency added.

The WHO assesses the current risk to the general population posed by the virus as low.

The girl traveled to Kolkata from February 12 to 29. She had no known exposure to sick people or animals while in the city.

Returning to Australia on March 1, she was admitted to a hospital in southeastern Victoria the following day. On March 4, she was transferred to an intensive care unit in Melbourne due to worsening symptoms. She was discharged after two and a half weeks.

The girl tested positive for influenza A while hospitalized, and samples were sent for further analysis in April.

“Virus genetic sequencing obtained from the samples confirmed the subtype A(H5N1)… which circulates in southeast Asia and has been detected in previous human infections and poultry,” the WHO explained.

The girl is reportedly well, and no relatives in either Australia or India have developed symptoms.

Indian authorities have been notified and have initiated an epidemiological investigation, the agency said.

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