China reports first human case of H3N8 bird flu

Bol News  |  Apr 27, 2022

China reports first human case of H3N8 bird flu
According to Reuters. China has recorded its first human infection with the H3N8 strain of bird flu, but the risk of its spread among people is low, the health authority said.

The variant was discovered in a four-year-old boy from Henan province’s central province, who had fever and other symptoms on April 5, according to the National Health Commission.

The child had been in contact with chickens and crows raised at his home, it added in a statement.

The H3N8 variant is common in horses and dogs and has even been found in seals. No human cases of H3N8 have been reported, said the NHC.

Whole genome sequence analyses indicate that the H3N8 virus in this human case is a reassortant, with genes from viruses that have been detected previously in poultry and wild birds, said Nicola Lewis, an influenza expert at the Royal Veterinary College in Britain.

The virus warrants expanded surveillance, said Erik Karlsson, deputy head of the virology unit at the Institut Pasteur in Cambodia.

Its implication in the 1889 influenza pandemic, known as the Russian flu, was “a major concern for the risk of the virus”, he added.

The massive numbers of farmed and wild birds of various species in China provide an ideal environment for avian viruses to mix and develop. Some humans get infected on a sporadic basis, usually those who work with poultry.

The health commission said an initial study showed the variant did not yet have the ability to effectively infect humans, and the risk of a large-scale epidemic was low.

Infections in humans can result in adaptive alterations that allow these viruses to spread more freely in mammals, according to Karlsson.

“We need to be concerned about all spillover events,” he said.

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