Uncovering the Truth about Avian Influenza: H5N2

Published on June 10, 2024 at 4:00 PM CDT

Recently, a man in Mexico City succumbed to avian influenza, sparking concern and raising questions about the different strains of bird flu. While the world has been on high alert due to the spread of the H5N1 strain, the case in Mexico City was actually caused by the H5N2 strain. So, what exactly is H5N2 and what does this mean for the ongoing surveillance of bird flu?

Bonnie Petrie from TPR interviewed virus expert and vaccine researcher Luis Martinez-Sobrido from the Texas Biomedical Research Institute to shed light on the situation.

Petrie: What is H5N2?

Martinez-Sobrido: H5N2 is a subtype of influenza A virus that has been prevalent in Mexican farms for years. It exists in two forms – high pathogenic and low pathogenic. Up until the recent case in April 2024, there had been no reported human cases of H5N2, making this incident a cause for concern regarding the transmission of the virus from animals to humans.

Petrie: How does this relate to the global pandemic of H5N1?

Martinez-Sobrido: The case in Mexico City is unique as the patient had no direct contact with animals, unlike previous H5N2 cases in farms. This raises questions about how the virus was transmitted to the individual. While there is currently a low risk of human-to-human transmission, caution is advised for travelers visiting areas with known outbreaks.

Petrie: Is Texas Biomed involved in researching H5N2?

Martinez-Sobrido: At this time, Texas Biomed is not actively researching avian H5N2 influenza viruses.

This case serves as a reminder of the ever-evolving nature of influenza viruses and the importance of continued surveillance and research to prevent future outbreaks. Stay informed and take necessary precautions when traveling to regions affected by avian influenza viruses.