First Human Infection with H6N1 Bird Flu virus

For the first time, the H6N1 Influenza A virus has successfully infected a human. A study published today in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine details the case, which occurred in May of this year. The patient, a 20-year-old woman living in Taiwan, had no prior contact with poultry, nor were any infected poultry detected in the farms near her home – the method of infection therefore remains unknown. The patient presented primarily with mild pneumonia, and successfully recovered  following a routine course of Tamiflu.

According to the Center for Disease Control in Taiwan, sequencing of the virus discovered  a mutation enabling a “G228S substitution in the haemagglutinin (HA) protein that might increase its ability to infect human cells”. After a thorough epidemiological investigation, no further cases of the virus were detected. H6N1 is a relatively low pathogenic strain of influenza.

For the Taiwanese CDC press release, see here.

(Image: Robert Sharp/Flickr)