Weeks after confirming the first human case of H5N1 bird flu in Australia, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that the child had traveled to Kolkata, India, and the family said they did not have any known exposure to infected people or animals while there.
On May 22, the WHO had said that the child was hospitalized on March 2 and remained there for more than two weeks.
As per the latest update, the kid had traveled to Kolkata from Feb. 12 to Feb. 19 and returned to Australia on March 1.
The WHO said genetic sequencing showed the virus was subtype H5N1 and part of a strain that circulates in Southeast Asia and has been detected in previous human infections and in poultry.
How did the child contract the infection?
According to Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security it is important to check if the child was in contact with poultry or other birds, or if there was an outbreak of this version of H5N1 nearby. “H5N1 viruses do not transmit efficiently between humans and I suspect there‚Äôs an occult animal exposure that led to the infection,” Adalja told Reuters.
“The case is a 2.5-year-old-female child with no underlying conditions. She had a history of travel to Kolkata, India from 12 to 29 February 2024. She returned to Australia on 1 March 2024.

Upon returning to Australia, the child presented at a hospital in Victoria on 2 March 2024, where she received medical care and was admitted on the same day. On 4 March, the patient was transferred to the intensive care unit at a referral hospital in Melbourne, Victoria, due to worsening symptoms, for a period of one week. The patient was discharged from hospital after a 2.5-week admission. The case is now reported to be clinically well,” the WHO has said in a press release.
What were her symptoms?
The child started to feel unwell on 25 February 2024, with loss of appetite, irritability and fever, and was taken to a doctor on the evening of 28 February 2024 in India. She was febrile, coughing and vomiting and was given paracetamol. It was not reported to an Australian airport biosecurity officer that the child was unwell when she arrived in Australia on 1 March 2024.

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