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Australia records first human infection of avian influenza

Australia reported its first case of human avian influenza infection on Wednesday, in a child who authorities said was infected in India but has now fully recovered, while a different, highly contagious strain was found on a farm of eggs.

In recent years, the H5N1 strain of avian influenza has spread across the world, killing billions of wild and farmed birds and spreading to dozens of mammal species.

Health authorities in Australia’s southeastern state of Victoria said contact tracing had identified no further cases and that the likelihood of more people being infected was very low as bird flu does not spread easily between people.

“This is the first confirmed human case of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Australia,” state health officer Claire Looker said in a statement.

It was the first case of detection of the H5N1 virus in a person or animal in the country, he added.

“The child had a serious infection but is no longer ill and has fully recovered.”

The case in Victoria involves an H5N1 virus, but the strain is not the same as the one responsible for outbreaks in the United States, Looker said.

A Texas farm worker tested positive for the H5N1 virus earlier this year as it was spreading through U.S. livestock herds.

Australia is the only continent where animals have so far remained free of the H5N1 avian influenza virus, but authorities on Wednesday said a different strain of the highly pathogenic disease had been detected on an egg farm near Melbourne.

Initial laboratory tests showed the virus was an as yet unidentified H7 strain, which likely came from the wild bird population and had already been observed in Australia, said Graeme Cooke, Victoria’s chief veterinary officer.

Movement restrictions have been imposed within the farm and the birds will be culled, he added.

Source: Terra

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