First Human Infection of Avian Influenza A(H5N6) Virus Reported in Lao
People’s Democratic Republic, February-March 2021
In March 2021, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Laos) reported an avian
influenza A(H5N6) virus infection in a 5-year-old child identified
through sentinel surveillance. This was the first human A(H5N6)
infection reported outside of China. A multidisciplinary investigation
undertook contact tracing and enhanced human and animal surveillance in
surrounding villages and live bird markets. Seven Muscovy ducks tested
positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H5N6) viruses.
Sequenced viruses belonged to clade 126.96.36.199h and were closely related to
viruses detected in poultry in Vietnam, and to previous viruses detected
in Laos. Surveillance and coordinated outbreak response remain essential
to global health security.