A new strain of bird flu (influenza) that had previously not infected humans has jumped over! Scientists got quite a nasty surprise when a Taiwanese woman came down with a new flu. The woman, 20, was hospitalized in May with a lung infection. After being treated with Tamiflu and antibiotics, she was released. One of her throat swabs was sent to the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control. Experts there identified it as the H6N1 bird flu, widely circulating in chickens on the island (and has not been documented as jumping to humans before!)
The patient, who was not identified, worked in a deli and had no known connection to live birds. Investigators couldn’t figure out how she was infected. But they noted several of her close family and friends also developed flu-like symptoms after spending time with her, though none tested positive for H6N1. Scientists often monitor birds to see which viruses are killing them, in an attempt to guess which flu strains might be troublesome for humans – but neither H6N1 nor H7N9 make birds very sick.
The research was published this week in the online journal – Lancet Respiratory Medicine.