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First human case of H5N2 bird flu died from multiple factors — WHO

GENEVA, Switzerland — A man infected with H5N2 bird flu, the first confirmed human infection with the strain, died from multiple factors, the WHO said on Friday, adding that investigations were ongoing.

The World Health Organization on Wednesday announced that the first laboratory-confirmed human case of infection with H5N2 avian influenza virus had been reported from Mexico.

Mexico's health ministry said the 59-year-old man had "a history of chronic kidney disease, type 2 diabetes (and) long-standing systemic arterial hypertension".

He had been bedridden for three weeks before the onset of acute symptoms, developing fever, shortness of breath, diarrhoea, nausea and general malaise on April 17.

The man was taken to hospital in Mexico City a week later and died that day.

"The death is a multi-factorial death, not a death attributable to H5N2," WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told journalists in Geneva on Friday.

His body was tested for flu and other viruses, and H5N2 was detected, Lindmeier said.

Seventeen hospital contacts were identified but all tested negative for influenza.

In the man's place of residence, 12 contacts in the weeks beforehand were identified. All likewise tested negative.

"The infection of H5N2 is being investigated to see whether he was infected by somebody visiting or by any contact with any animals before," Lindmeier said.

The WHO on Wednesday said that the source of exposure to the virus was unknown, though H5N2 viruses have been reported in poultry in Mexico.

The United Nations' health agency assesses the current risk to the general population posed by the virus as low.

Later on Friday, the WHO said a two-and-a-half-year-old girl tested positive for H5N1, a different strain of bird flu, and needed hospital intensive care treatment in Australia after returning from India.

"This is the first confirmed human infection caused by avian influenza A(H5N1) virus detected and reported by Australia," a statement said.

"The exposure likely occurred in India" where the girl had travelled, and where this group of "viruses has been detected in birds in the past," the WHO added.

The girl had travelled to Kolkata from February 12 to 29, returned to