Australia records first human case of bird flu in child travelling from India

Child infected with bird flu in India becomes Australia’s first human case of disease. — Reuters/File

Australia recorded its first human case of the avian influenza A(H5N1), also known as bird flu, on Wednesday, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

The infection was detected in a child travelling back from India, who had acquired the infection there and had been unwell in March 2024, according to a statement by the Victoria state Department of Health.

The department also said that the child has made a full recovery and there are no signs of transmission, with a “very low” chance of human cases in the future.

“The child experienced a severe infection but is no longer unwell and has made a full recovery,” the spokesperson said. “Contact tracing has not identified any further cases of avian influenza connected to this case.”

Avian influenza is an infectious viral disease of birds that is not commonly detected in humans and many strains of avian influenza and the Department of Health said “most of them don’t infect humans”.

“Some subtypes, including H5N1, are more likely to cause disease and death in poultry,” a spokesperson said.

There is a current outbreak of this strain in other parts of the world including in dairy cows in the US and a dairy worker recently tested positive for the virus.

Bird flu in poultry was last detected in Australia in 2020.

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