Emerging disease surveillance and response

Avian Influenza

Avian Influenza Weekly Update Number 614 (8 December 2017)


Human infection with avian influenza A(H5N1) virus

Between 1 and 7 Decembe 2017, no new cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H5N1) virus were reported to WHO in the Western Pacific Region.

As of 7 December 2017, a total of 238 cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H5N1) virus were reported from four countries within the Western Pacific Region since January 2003 (Table 1). Of these cases, 134 were fatal, resulting in a case fatality rate (CFR) of 56%. The last case was reported from China and its onset date was 27 December 2015 (1 case, no death).

Globally, from January 2003 to 27 September 2017, there were 860 cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H5N1) virus reported from 16 countries worldwide. Of these 860 cases, 454 were fatal (CFR of 52.8%). The last case was reported from Egypt on 26 September 2017.
(source: Cumulative number of confirmed human cases of avian influenza A(H5N1) reported to WHO)


Human infection with avian influenza A(H5N6) virus

Between 1 and 7 December 2017, no new cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H5N6) virus were reported to WHO in the Western Pacific Region. The last case was reported on 1 December 2016 (source: Human infections with avian influenza A(H5N6) virus - China). A total of 16 laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with influenza A(H5N6) virus, including six deaths, have been reported to WHO from China since 2014.


Public health risk assessment for human infection with avian influenza A(H5) viruses

Whenever avian influenza viruses are circulating in poultry, sporadic infections and small clusters of human cases are possible in people exposed to infected poultry or contaminated environments; therefore sporadic human cases are not unexpected.

With the rapid spread and magnitude of avian influenza outbreaks due to existing and new influenza A(H5) viruses in poultry in areas that have not experienced this disease in animals recently, there is a need for increased vigilance in the animal and public health sectors. Community awareness of the potential dangers for human health is essential to prevent infection in humans. Surveillance should be enhanced to detect human infections if they occur and to detect early changes in transmissibility and infectivity of the viruses.

For more information on confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H5) virus reported to WHO, visit: http://www.who.int/influenza/human_animal_interface/en/


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