Sources in Taiwan say that a previously unseen variant of avian influenza infected a 20-year-old woman in that country in the first recorded case of an H6N1 virus infecting and causing disease in a human.

Ming-Tsan Liu of the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control in Taipei and colleagues reported the woman was treated in May and made a full recovery, with no sign that she passed the virus to anyone else. Since then, no other cases have been detected by enhanced flu monitoring practices.

MedPage Today reported Wednesday:

The situation is reminiscent of the outbreak of H7N9 avian influenza in neighboring China last year, which was also found widely in domestic poultry.

According to the World Health Organization, the H7N9 flu has caused 139 cases of human infection and 45 deaths so far, although more are possible as this year’s flu season advances.

The two viruses are similar epidemiologically, according to Richard Webby, PhD, of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis and also director of the WHO collaborating center for influenza in the U.S.

But, he told MedPage Today, “the H7N9 does seem to be a more infectious virus and certainly concerns me more than the H6.”

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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