The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed the child who contracted Australia’s first human case of a “severe” subtype of bird flu was likely exposed during a trip to India last month.

The WHO said on Friday, local time, that genetic sequencing showed the avian influenza virus was H5N1 — a strain that circulates in South-East Asia and has been detected in previous human infections and in poultry.

“Although the source of exposure to the virus in this case is currently unknown, the exposure likely occurred in India, where the case had travelled, and where this clade of A(H5N1) viruses has been detected in birds in the past,” it said in a statement.

The two-year-old girl from Victoria had travelled to Kolkata in India’s state of West Bengal from February 12 to February 19, returning to Australia on March 1, the WHO said.

The child was hospitalised on March 2 and remained there for more than two weeks before making a “full recovery”, according to Victoria’s health department. 

The WHO said, as of May 22, no close family contacts in Australia or India had developed symptoms.

“Additional information provided by the family indicates that the case did not travel outside of Kolkata, India, and did not have any known exposure to sick persons or animals while in India.”

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