The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed the first human fatality from H5N2 avian (bird) flu in Mexico.

The 59-year-old man, who had been hospitalised in Mexico City, died on 24 April 2024 after developing a fever, shortness of breath, diarrhoea, nausea and other flu symptoms.

This is the first laboratory-confirmed human case of infection with an influenza A(H5N2) virus that has been verified and reported globally.

In March 2024, Mexico reported three outbreaks of H5N2 in poultry, however the man who died from H5N2 did not have any history of exposure to poultry or other animals.

The WHO said it was unclear how he had been infected, and scientists are on high alert to identify mutations in the avian virus that could signal it is adapting to become zoonotic. The WHO also said the current risk of avian flu to Mexico’s population remains low.

Mexico’s health ministry said in a statement that there was no evidence of person-to-person transmission of avian flu. The man who died had multiple underlying medical conditions and had been ill and confined to bed for three weeks, prior to the onset of the acute flu symptoms.

The H5 strain shows a propensity to infect mammals more than any other avian influenza virus.


 Further reading:

Mexico man dies from first human case of avian flu strain H5N2

Reuters: Mexico says avian flu patient died of chronic disease, not virus

Cows in the US have bird flu - is it inching closer to humans?