“Globally, the number of avian influenza outbreaks in wild birds and birds has increased since 2020, and we can expect additional sporadic human cases,” said Dr. Sylvie Briand, Director of Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness and Prevention at WHO.
According to the WHO, from 2003 to 2023, 873 human cases of influenza A (H5N1) infection and 458 deaths were recorded worldwide from 21 countries.
Bird flu in China
The WHO said that available epidemiological and virological evidence suggests that current avian influenza viruses are not capable of sustained transmission between humans.
The global health body said “the risk of human-to-human transmission is low”…. “More human cases can be expected” until bird flu viruses circulate in birds.
To avoid the risk of human bird flu spreading, the agency warned tourists to avoid wet markets, farms and any areas where animals are slaughtered. The first case of H5N1 infection in China occurred in November after a woman died from the virus in the southern province of Guangxi. This week, two more types of bird flu – H5N6 and H9N2 – were registered in the country, the media reported.
The two cases of H5N1 in Cambodia are the first reported since 2014. In December 2003, Cambodia reported the first outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 affecting wild birds. Since then and until 2014, human cases of poultry-to-human transmission have been sporadically reported in Cambodia.
WHO recommended regular hand washing and good food safety and food hygiene practices. It also emphasized the importance of global surveillance and timely virus sharing for risk assessment to detect and monitor virological, epidemiological and clinical changes associated with emerging or circulating influenza viruses that may affect human (or animal) health.