China reports first case of H10N3 bird flu, says risk of large-scale spread is low

A man in Eastern China has contracted the world’s first case of the H10N3 strain of the bird flu. The risk of large-scale spread is low, the Chinese government claimed on Tuesday.

The 41-year-old man, a resident of the city Zhenjiang in the Jiangsu province, hospitalized April 28, is currently in stable condition and is ready to be discharged, the National Health Commission said on its website. The man received the diagnosis on the 28th of May, but it is unknown how he received the infection. The H10N3 has not been reported in any human anywhere else, the commission said. “This infection is an accidental cross-species transmission,” its statement said. “The risk of large-scale transmission is low.”

The H10N3 bird flu is a low pathogenic strain of the virus found in poultry. Filip Claes, the regional laboratory coordinator of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases, at the Asia and Pacific regional office, says the strain is “not a very common virus”. Analyzing the genetic data of the virus is necessary to determine if it resembles older viruses or if it is a mix of different viruses, Claes said. Only 160 cases of the virus has been reported from 1969-2018 in wildlife, mostly in wild birds or water fowl mostly in Asia, with none being in chickens.

The H7N9 strain, which plagued China from 2016-2017, killed 281 people, with a mortality rate of 30%. The HPAI H5N1 strain reportedly infected more than 700 people since 2003, most cases linked to contact with infected poultry, the strain is unable to be transmitted person to person, and has a 60% mortality rate. Since 2017, there has been no significant human infections of bird flu. Symptoms of the virus include conjunctivitis, fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and severe respiratory illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The source of the patient’s exposure to the H10N3 virus is not known at this time, and no other cases were found in emergency surveillance among the local population. At this time, there is no indication of human-to-human transmission,” The World Health Organization replied to Reuters. “As long as avian influenza viruses circulate in poultry, sporadic infection of avian influenza in humans is not surprising, which is a vivid reminder that the threat of an influenza pandemic is persistent,” the WHO added.


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