According to India’s health ministry, an 11-year-old boy died of bird flu earlier this month, marking the country’s first documented human death from the disease. On July 2, the boy was admitted to the prestigious All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi. According to a government statement released late Wednesday, he died on Tuesday as a result of multiorgan failure.
The boy’s family and the medical staff treating him have been placed in isolation, and authorities have begun contact tracing, according to the statement. The Animal Husbandry Department in Haryana, the boy’s home state in northern India, said it had not found any suspected cases of bird flu but had increased surveillance.
According to the health ministry, genome sequencing and virus isolation are underway, and an epidemiological investigation has begun. According to a report by the AFP news agency on Thursday, the boy lived in Gurgaon, on the outskirts of the capital New Delhi, and was also suffering from leukaemia and pneumonia.
The death of a person infected with the H5N1 strain of bird flu highlights a potential new threat for the world’s second-most populous country, which is battling the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected over 31 million people and killed over 400,000.
In the last 20 years, India has seen more than half a dozen bird flu outbreaks in poultry, all of which have been contained, with no human cases previously reported.