Coronavirus – Disease, Medical Sciences Involved & Preventive Measures

First Human Case of Avian H5N2 Infection


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: H5N2 , Avian Influenza A

Why in the News?

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed the death of a Mexican resident due to bird flu, marking the first confirmed case of human infection with the H5N2 variant.
    • This H5N2 strain is different from another bird flu variety-H5N1 which infected people in America recently.

What is Avian Influenza A (H5N2)?

  • Avian Influenza A (H5N2) is a subtype of the influenza A virus that primarily circulates among birds but can infect humans under certain circumstances.
  • Human infections typically result from direct contact with infected birds or contaminated environments, showcasing the zoonotic nature of the virus.

Symptoms of H5N2

  • Infection of H5N2 may cause mild to severe upper respiratory tract infections and can be fatal.
  • Conjunctivitis, gastrointestinal symptoms, encephalitis and encephalopathy have also been reported.

Diagnostic and Treatment Protocols

  • Laboratory Diagnosis: The identification of avian influenza in humans necessitates laboratory testing to confirm the presence of the virus.
  • WHO Guidance: The World Health Organization periodically updates technical protocols, such as RT-PCR methods, to enhance the detection of zoonotic influenza.
  • Treatment Strategies: Antiviral medications, notably neuraminidase inhibitors like oseltamivir and zanamivir, demonstrate efficacy in reducing viral replication duration and improving survival prospects for afflicted individuals.

Influenza A Viruses

  • The alphanumeric codes of H and N are used to subdivide the viruses according to what kinds of proteins are on the surface of the virus based on 2 types:
  1. Hemagglutinin (HA) 
  2. Neuraminidase (NA)
  • There are 18 known HA subtypes and 11 known NA subtypes.
  • In birds, 16 HA and 9 NA subtypes have been identified. (Two additional subtypes, H17N10 and H18N11, have been identified in bats.)
  • Many different combinations of HA and NA proteins are possible.
  • For example, an “A(H7N2) virus” designates an influenza A virus subtype that has an HA 7 protein and an NA 2 protein.
  • Similarly, an “A(H5N1)” virus has an HA 5 protein and an NA 1 protein.



[2015] H1N1 virus is sometimes mentioned in the news concerning which one of the following diseases?

(a) AIDS

(b) Bird flu

(c) Dengue

(d) Swine flu

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