Human infection with avian influenza A (H5N1) virus
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Human infection with avian influenza A (H5N1) virus

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      January 15, 2014, 13:45 ET (1:45 PM ET)


      On January 8, 2014, the Public Health Agency of Canada reported the first confirmed case of human infection with avian influenza A (H5N1) virus identified in North America. The patient exhibited symptoms while returning from travel to Beijing, China, on December 27, 2013. For more information on this patient’s travel itinerary, please refer to a Public Health Agency of Canada technical briefing at 0108a-eng.php. The patient was hospitalized on January 1, 2014, and subsequently died on January 3, 2014. Investigations by Canadian public health officials are ongoing. Since avian influenza A (H5N1) viruses have only been rarely, and never sustainably, transmitted from person to person, there is a very low risk of subsequent related cases. To date, no cases of human infection with avian influenza A (H5N1) viruses have been reported in the United States.

      This case is a reminder that novel influenza A viruses, including avian influenza A (H5N1) virus, can infect and cause severe respiratory illness in humans. The clinical presentation of human infection with avian influenza A viruses varies considerably. Most reports of H5N1 in humans, however, have described severe illness, including fulminant pneumonia leading to respiratory failure, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and death. Other reported H5N1 complications include encephalitis, septic shock, and multi-organ failure.

      Clinicians should consider the possibility of avian influenza A (H5N1) virus infection in persons exhibiting symptoms of severe respiratory illness who have appropriate travel or exposure


      State health departments are encouraged to investigate potential human cases of avian influenza A (H5N1) virus infection as described below and should notify CDC within 24 hours of identifying

      a probable or confirmed case of novel influenza A virus infection, including avian influenza A (H5N1) virus infection.

      Potential cases of human infection with influenza A (H7N9) virus should also be investigated, using current case definitions and testing recommendations for avian influenza A

      (H7N9) virus.

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