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First Human Case of H6N1 Bird Flu Reported in Taiwan

November 14, 2013
Public Health

Researchers from the Taiwan Centres for Disease Control have reported the first human case of H6N1 flu virus. A 20 year old deli worker was hospitalised with the disease in May, more detailed tests revealing that she was suffering from H6N1, a virus that up until now had only been found in birds. After 36 close contacts were tracked, there was no evidence that the virus had passed from person to person. The route of infection is still unclear as the patient had no close contact with chickens or wild birds.

H6N1 is the latest ‘bird flu virus’ to infect humans, earlier this year 139 people in China were infected with H7N9 virus in an outbreak that saw 45 fatalities. Researcher, Ho-Sheng Wu, feels that more study is necessary to gauge how serious H6N1 could become, saying; ?As these viruses continue to evolve and accumulate changes, they increase the potential risk of human infection. Further investigations are needed to clarify the potential threat posed by this emerging virus.? An analysis of the H6N1 genes from the patient has shown that the strain was similar to one seen in chickens. The virus though appears to have developed the ability to bind to human cells in the upper respiratory tract. Researchers admitted that further changes in the virus may increase its ability to pass from chickens to humans.?

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