Tue, November 30, 2021


China finds possible first human case of H10N3 bird flu strain

The Chinese government announced Tuesday that a man in Jiangsu province, northwest of Shanghai, had become the first person known to have been infected with the H10N3 strain of bird flu.

In a statement, China's National Health Commission emphasized that there was no evidence that the strain had the ability to spread among humans, adding that the risk of a significant outbreak was "very low."

The patient, a 41-year-old man who lived in the city of Zhenjiang, was hospitalized on April 28 after having fever symptoms, the National Health Commission said. He was diagnosed with H10N3 a month later.

Though the man remains under medical supervision, his condition was described as stable and meeting the standards for discharge. It was not clear from the statement how he caught the virus.

The news of the H10N3 infection comes amid the devastation of the covid-19 pandemic, which also was first identified in China and is widely thought to have come to humans from bats through some form of zoonotic spread.

A different strain of bird flu, known as H7N9, led to the deaths of around 300 people during an outbreak between 2016 and 2017.

But varieties of avian influenza are common in China and, due to increased surveillance of them, relatively easy to find in humans. Unlike H7N9, there is no evidence that H10N3 can spread easily from human to human.

"The more we look for novel viruses as a cause of illness among patients the more we are likely to find them," Gregory Gray, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at Duke University, told the South China Morning Post.

Alexandra Phelan, a global health lawyer at Georgetown University's Center for Global Health Science and Security, wrote on Twitter that people should be "alert but not alarmed" about the news, adding that spillover between species did not itself mean there was epidemic risk.

China's National Health Commission also said that the H10N3 was low pathogenic among poultry, meaning it caused less severe illness among birds.

Chinese authorities had placed all the man's close contacts under investigation but did not display symptoms.

Local residents were told to remain vigilant, wearing a mask and visiting a doctor if they suffered any influenza symptoms. They were also advised to try to close contact with birds, dead or alive.

Published : June 01, 2021

By : The Washington Post · Adam Taylor