WHO reports first bird flue death in Mexico

The death came from a previously unconfirmed strain of bird flu.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported the first human death caused by a previously unconfirmed strain of bird flu – called H5N2 – in Mexico.

The man’s infection with H5N2 has never before been found in humans.


Driving the news: The source of the man’s infection remains unclear, although H5N2 has been detected in poultry in Mexico.

  • H5N2 is a different strain from the H5N1 strain that has affected dairy cow herds in the U.S.
  • Previous outbreaks of various bird flu strains, such as H5N6, have led to human deaths in other countries, including China.

The big picture: Mexican health officials alerted the WHO about the 59-year-old man who died in a Mexico City hospital from the virus. 

  • He had no known exposure to poultry or other animals.
  • The man had underlying ailments, including chronic kidney failure, diabetes, and high blood pressure. 
  • Initial tests indicated an unidentified type of flu, which subsequent laboratory testing confirmed as H5N2.

Go deeper: The WHO has stated that the risk to people in Mexico is low, and no further human cases have been discovered at this time.

  • Although there were poultry outbreaks of H5N2 in nearby parts of Mexico, authorities have not been able to establish a connection.
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