Chickens in a factory farm.

Mexican Man Dies From Bird Flu Strain Never Seen Before in Humans



In Mexico, a 59-year-old man died a week after presenting symptoms despite no known exposure to farmed birds or other animals.

A 59-year-old man in Mexico City, Mexico has died from bird flu, The Associated Press has reported. This strain, H5N2, has never before been found in a human, the World Health Organization (WHO) noted, and the organization is not clear how the man became infected with the virus.

H5N2 is just one type of bird flu and is a different strain than seen in the United States that has infected multiple chicken factory farms, dairy herds, and three US farmworkers. The Mexico City man presented with symptoms a week before his death on April 24, 2024, and subsequent weeks of lab testing confirmed he had died from H5N2.

Three farmworkers—two from dairy factory farms and one man slaughtering infected birds on a chicken farm as part of a prison work program—remain the only confirmed human cases of bird flu in the US at this time. Currently, government agencies insist the virus is not human-to-human transmissible, but remains highly contagious among non-human mammals.

The World Health Organization has declared avian flu a global zoonotic pandemic and is urging major health agencies from Africa, China, Europe, and the United States to ensure there is an immediate response with “access equitability to vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics,” should there be a confirmed human-to-human transmission.

This newly confirmed death comes on the heels of chicken factory farms near Des Moines, Iowa and Minneapolis, Minnesota killing more than 5.6 million chickens on egg farms that had been infected with a highly pathogenic strain of H5N1 bird flu. The Iowa factory farm killed more than 4.2 million chickens, while the egg farm in Minnesota killed nearly 1.4 million egg-laying hens.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recorded 92.34 million birds have been killed in connection to the H5N1 outbreaks since 2022. This is a mind-blowing number of individuals killed either from bird flu or trying to stop the spread to other factory farms and does not include the number of wild animals—including a dolphin and millions of sea birds— who have died from the disease.

Because bird flu is so infectious, it spreads rapidly throughout bird populations. The conditions on factory farms create a perfect breeding ground for viruses to evolve and spread. Factory farms also increase the likelihood that a single outbreak can quickly result in the suffering and death of tens of millions of individual, sentient chickens, ducks, turkeys, and geese raised for food products.

Could bird flu become the next human pandemic? If we don’t change the way we interact with all animals and end factory farming, it might be.

In order to prevent the next global pandemic and better protect animals, humans, and our planet, World Animal Protection is calling for an end to factory farming globally. 

Please take action today by urgently sending a letter to your federal legislators urging them to co-sponsor the Farm System Reform Act (FSRA), which would ban factory farming in the United States.

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