A 49-year-old Sichuan man has died of complications with pneumonia linked to a little-known strain of avian flu called H5N6. This represents the first human death from the strain, and researchers are working overtime to figure out more about the virus.
The man, whose name has not been released, contracted the disease after coming into contact with dead infected poultry. After the diagnosis, some 1,338 nearby birds were “culled” (a very polite term for a very impolite thing to do) and, according to the South China Morning Post, we shouldn’t be too scared, although maybe we totally should:
Chen Ze , a professor at the Shanghai Institute of Biological Products, said it was very likely an isolated case. “The public do not need to worry too much. The government should step up monitoring,” said Chen.
But Yuen Kwok-yung, a professor of microbiology at the University of Hong Kong, said: “Nobody knows how pathogenic or transmissible it is in humans as it is a different ball game.”
We’re already starting to miss the good ole’ days of H7N9 flumageddon, where at least the scientists involved knew what the hell they were looking at. This case of H5N6 is hopefully a one-off event and not a call to stock up on canned goods and hide away in the flu shelter.