(HealthDay News) – The first confirmed case of a person infected with a new H6N1 bird flu virus subtype has been reported by scientists in Taiwan, according to research published online Nov. 14 in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.
The patient was a 20-year-old woman from central Taiwan who arrived at a hospital in May 2013 with flu-like symptoms and shortness of breath. She responded to treatment with Tamiflu (oseltamivir) and has since fully recovered. Tests on throat-swab samples taken from the woman revealed that she was infected with a new H6N1 bird flu virus that closely resembled chicken H6N1 viruses that have been circulating in Taiwan since 1972.
The source of the woman’s infection is unknown. She worked in a delicatessen, had not been out of the country for three months before she was infected, and had not been in close contact with poultry or wild birds. No H6N1 virus was found in two poultry breeding facilities close to the woman’s home. The woman was in close contact with 36 people, and six of them developed a fever or respiratory tract infection. However, infection with H6N1 was ruled out in those cases.
“As these viruses continue to evolve and accumulate changes, they increase the potential risk of human infection. Further investigations are needed to clarify the potential threat posed by this emerging virus,” study lead author Ho-Sheng Wu, PhD, from the Centers for Disease Control in Taiwan, said in a statement.