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Article describing world’s first case of human infection with avian influenza A(H6N1) virus confirmed in Taiwan to be published in international medical journal

  • Data Source:Ministry of Health and Welfare
  • Created:2013-11-04
  • Last Updated:2017-02-03

The Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (Taiwan CDC) announced an article describing the world’s first case of human infection with avian influenza A (H6N1) virus confirmed in Taiwan in June, 2013 had been submitted to The Lancet Respiratory Medicine by scientists working at Taiwan CDC. At the time of writing, this article has been accepted and will be published in the journal on November 14, 2013. 

A genetic analysis of the avian influenza A (H6N1) virus isolated from this case shows that the virus is closest to that from poultry in Taiwan, suggesting that this virus originates from poultry in Taiwan. Notably, the virus had a G228S substitution in the haemagglutinin (HA) protein that might increase its ability to infect human cells. In addition, based on the sequences of the NA protein, the virus is susceptible to neuraminidase (NA) –inhibitors such as Oseltamivir and Relenza. 

Taiwan CDC further explained that the case’s condition improved after administering antivirals and the case fully recovered after appropriate medical treatment. Among the 36 close contacts of the case, none has been found to be infected with avian influenza A (H6N1) virus. Moreover, Taiwan CDC conducted enhanced influenza surveillance in patients that visit the 3 hospitals and 7 clinics located within the 8-km radius of the case’s residence for three months. A cumulative total of 178 influenza-like illness (ILI) specimens have been tested through this surveillance and none has been tested positive for avian influenza A (H6N1) virus. On the other hand, thus far in 2013, the contracted virology laboratories in the nation have tested a cumulative total of 6,985 respiratory specimens collected from the community and none has been tested positive for avian influenza A (H6N1) virus. Based on the results of the epidemiological investigation, the case presenting mild pneumonia is a sporadic case and testing of the close contacts of the case has not yielded any evidence of human-to-human transmission of this virus in the community. Both the health and agricultural authorities will continue to reinforce avian influenza surveillance in humans, poultry and the environment. 

Taiwan CDC points out that avian influenza A (H6N1) virus is commonly found in poultry. No avian influenza A (H6N1) virus had been detected in humans till the world’s first case was confirmed in Taiwan. To prevent avian-to-human transmission of avian influenza infections, Taiwan CDC advises poultry vendors to take relevant personal precautions and the general public to avoid unnecessary direct contact with poultry and birds or their droppings. In addition, the public is also advised to practice good personal hygiene such as washing hands frequently and consuming only thoroughly cooked poultry and eggs to reduce the risk of infection. If influenza-like illness symptoms or conjunctivitis develop, please put on a surgical mask, seek immediate medical attention and inform your doctor of your exposure history to birds/poultry, job contents and travel history. 

For more information on avian influenza, please visit the Taiwan CDC’s website at or call the toll-free Communicable Disease Reporting and Care Hotline, 1922, or 0800-001922 if calling from a cell phone.