WHO China statement on H5N6

Media statement

WHO has been informed of the death of a man in Sichuan province from severe pneumonia caused by H5N6 influenza virus.

The likely source of infection was exposure to infected poultry. The virus was identified in chickens from the patient’s poultry farm (this has been confirmed by the relevant authorities).

This is the first reported case of the H5N6 virus in humans in the world.

At this stage, this appears to be an isolated case. The patient's close contacts have been under surveillance, and none have developed any symptoms of influenza-like illness. This suggests that the risk of spread is, at this time, very low.

The Chinese Government is working with local authorities to respond to this case and keeping WHO well informed.

More generally, to minimise risk of transmission of disease from poultry WHO recommends:

  • Minimizing contacts with live poultry and sick/already dead poultry
  • Basic hand hygiene (wash hands with soap or disinfectants) and stay away from environments contaminated with poultry secretions
  • Eat only poultry and poultry products that are well cooked

WHO will continue to monitor the situation very closely.

For more information, please contact:

Ms WU Linlin
WHO China Office
E-mail: wul@wpro.who.int
Office Tel: +86 10 6532 7191