In the wake of H5N1 avian flu detections in wild birds and poultry in South America over the past few months, Ecuador's health ministry yesterday reported the country's first human infection involving H5 avian influenza.
The patient is a 9-year-old girl from Bolivar province, an Andes Mountain area in the central part of the country, according to a ministry statement translated and posted by Avian Flu Diary, an infectious disease news blog.
The report had few details about the case, but it said the girl presumably had contact with birds that carried the virus. So far, investigators haven't found any other human cases.
Her illness marks the world's seventh infection from the circulating H5 clade. The others were from the United Kingdom, the United States, Spain, Vietnam, and China. All involved exposure to sick poultry. Four of the cases were mild, but the ones from Vietnam and China were severe, according to a recent risk assessment from the World Health Organization, which said the overall threat remains low, but the virus bears close watch.
Three H9N2 cases in China
Meanwhile, China confirmed three more H9N2 avian flu cases in different provinces, according to a regular avian flu update from the Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection.
The illness onsets occurred in October and November. The patients include a 58-year-old man from Hunan province, a 5-year-old girl from Gansu province, and a 3-year-old boy from Anhui province.
H9N2 is known to circulate in poultry in parts of Asia, with most human cases reported in China. Infections are typically mild and affect children. The country's most recent cases involved two children, one from Guangdong province and the other from Gansu province, who became ill in August and September, respectively.