Although a man in Chile has been infected with a bird flu that has worrying mutations, the threat to the man remains low, according to US health authorities.

Authorities said on Friday that previous animal studies suggest mutations could make the virus more harmful or spread more easily, but there is no evidence the mutations would make it easier for the virus to take root in the lungs. superiors of a person.

Vivien Dugen, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the mutations do not change the overall risk assessment for people with H5N1, which “continues to be low”.

Agency officials said the mutations may have occurred after the man fell ill.

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A new lab analysis looked at the virus in the lungs of a 53-year-old man in the Antofagasta region.

A World Health Organization summary of the case says he may have become infected through contact with sick or dead birds, or infected sea lions.

The man was in good health and had not traveled recently, but started having a cough, sore throat and hoarseness on March 13. His symptoms worsened and he was sent to an intensive care unit and treated with antiviral drugs and antibiotics.

FILE - Municipal workers pick up dead pelicans on Santa Maria beach in Lima, Peru, November 30, 2022, as thousands of birds died in November along Peru's Pacific due to bird flu, according to the National Forestry and Wildlife Service (Serfor).  A man in Chile has been infected with bird flu that has worrying mutations, according to new lab analysis.  But US health officials said Friday, April 14, 2023, the threat to humans remains low.

FILE – Municipal workers pick up dead pelicans on Santa Maria beach in Lima, Peru, November 30, 2022, as thousands of birds died in November along Peru’s Pacific due to bird flu, according to the National Forestry and Wildlife Service (Serfor). A man in Chile has been infected with bird flu that has worrying mutations, according to new lab analysis. But US health officials said Friday, April 14, 2023, the threat to humans remains low. (AP Photo/Guadalupe Pardo, File)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the patient remains hospitalized and under observation.

Genetic sequencing this week revealed the two relevant mutations, and Chilean and US health officials worked together on the investigation.

This is the second human infection with the H5N1 avian influenza virus reported in South America and the 11th worldwide since January 2022.

In the United States, a case of H5N1 was reported last year in a person who reported fatigue without any other symptoms after poultry slaughter activities.

The mutations only appeared in one hospitalized patient, and there is no evidence that the mutated virus spread to others, mixed with other flu viruses, or developed the ability to fight current drugs or escape vaccines, they added.

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FILE - A municipal worker stands amidst dead pelicans as a team works to remove them from Santa Maria beach in Lima, Peru, November 30, 2022, as thousands of birds died in November along the Peruvian Pacific due to bird flu, according to The National Forest and Wildlife Service (Serfor).

FILE – A municipal worker stands amidst dead pelicans as a team works to remove them from Santa Maria beach in Lima, Peru, November 30, 2022, as thousands of birds died in November along the Peruvian Pacific due to bird flu, according to The National Forest and Wildlife Service (Serfor). (AP Photo/Guadalupe Pardo, File)

“Nevertheless, it is important to continue to carefully review each case of human infection,” Dugan said. “We need to stay alert to changes that would make these viruses more dangerous for people.”

Such changes have been observed in past bird flu infections.

More than 450 people have died in the past two decades from bird flu infections, according to the World Health Organization.

The majority of humans who have been infected got it directly from birds.

In the United States, avian influenza has recently been discovered in wild birds in all states, in addition to commercial poultry and backyard flocks.

Municipal workers pick up dead pelicans on Santa Maria beach in Lima, Peru on November 30, 2022, as thousands of birds died in November along the Peruvian Pacific due to bird flu, according to the Service national forest and wildlife (Serfor).

Municipal workers pick up dead pelicans on Santa Maria beach in Lima, Peru on November 30, 2022, as thousands of birds died in November along the Peruvian Pacific due to bird flu, according to the Service national forest and wildlife (Serfor). (AP Photo/Guadalupe Pardo, File)

Since the start of last year, tens of millions of chickens have died from the virus or been killed to prevent the spread of outbreaks, driving up egg prices in the United States.

Recently, several California condors were reported dead and a beloved peregrine falcon was also killed by the disease.

As bird flu strikes other species, scientists fear the virus – which has spread to birds and animals around the world – could evolve to spread more easily among humans.

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The National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China reported a confirmed case of human infection with H3N8 avian influenza on March 27. The adult patient from Guangdong province suffered from several underlying medical conditions and was hospitalized with severe pneumonia 13 days before his death on March 16. – the first death from this virus ever reported and the third human infection.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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