An 11-year-old boy on Tuesday died of the H5N1 avian influenza in a first such death registered in India in 2021, reported PTI.

Bird flu or avian influenza is a highly contagious disease that is caused by Influenza Type A viruses, which is known to affect poultry and does not spread easily among humans. Those who come in contact with infected birds can contract the flu.

The World Health Organization has said that the disease does not commonly spread from person-to-person contact. “There is no evidence that the disease can be spread to people through properly prepared and thoroughly cooked food,” according to the world health body.

The child was admitted after being diagnosed with leukaemia and pneumonia to the All India Institute Of Medical Science in Delhi on July 2 and he died on July 12. The boy was reportedly a resident of Haryana.

“His samples tested negative for Covid-19,” the news agency quoted an identified source as saying. “It came out positive for influenza but was non-typable. It was sent to National Institute of Virology, Pune, where they confirmed it to be positive for H5N1 avian influenza.”

More details of the case was sent to the National Centre for Disease Control and their team was tracing the contacts to see if there were more such cases of the disease.

Reports said that the medical staff that treated the boy had been advised to isolate and report symptoms like a runny nose, sore throat or sneezing.

“There are many strains of the virus and while some may cause mild symptoms, others are lethal,” an unidentified AIIMS doctor told The Times of India. “NCDC is trying to ascertain the strain of the influenza virus that led to the death.”

The doctor added that bird flu was rarely reported among humans, but had the potential to be fatal.

On January 18, the Centre said that the outbreak of avian influenza or bird flu had been confirmed in 14 states. Three days later, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India had advised consumers to avoid eating half-boiled eggs and undercooked chicken in view of the countrywide outbreak of avian flu among poultry.

In January, all the three civic bodies in Delhi – north, south and east – banned the sale of chicken in their respective regions after an outbreak of avian influenza in the national Capital. The municipal authorities also warned hotels and restaurants against serving poultry meat or egg-based dishes.

But within a day the ban in Delhi was lifted after examination of 100 samples taken from the Ghazipur poultry market have tested negative for bird flu.

In April, around 100 migratory birds died in Pong Dam Lake in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh following the outbreak of a second wave of bird flu in the state.