Even as the current coronavirus pandemic has yet to end, China is now reporting its first case of the H10N3 bird flu virus. On Tuesday, Beijing’s National Health Commission (NHC) confirmed its first case. A 41-year-old man in China’s Jiangsu province became the first human case of bird flu known as H10N3.
China is home to many different strains of bird flu. In some cases, these may transfer to humans, especially those who work closely with poultry.
In this case, there are no indications that H10N3 spreads easily among humans. The man, a Zhenjiang city resident, entered the hospital on April 28 and received a diagnosis of H10N3 a month later. NHC did not give information on how the man became infected.
At present, the man’s condition remains stable. In fact, he is ready for discharge as of today. Previous contract tracing efforts did not show any additional victims or cases of H10N3.
In fact, there is no other case of human infection in the whole world. Meanwhile, earlier studies show that H10N3 is low pathogenic, which means it causes relatively less severe disease in poultry and is unlikely to cause a large-scale outbreak, the NHC added.
Comparisons WIth COVID-19
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), H10N3 is a type of bird flu or avian flu. These illnesses are common in wild aquatic birds worldwide but can infect domestic poultry and other bird and animal species.
Infected birds shed avian flu in their saliva, mucus, and feces. The virus can get inside humans through the eyes, nose, or mouth. It can also enter human bodies from inhalation of infected droplets or dust.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, many are already comparing H10N3 with the coronavirus. However, China’s National Health Commission is eager to debunk the similarities.
Bird flu viruses normally don’t infect humans, but crossover infections do happen. “This infection is an accidental cross-species transmission,” the NHC said in a statement. “The risk of large-scale transmission is low.”
H10N3 Bird Flu Source Unknown
Replying to a media inquiry, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that 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. 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.
No Additional Strains Until H10N3
Since the H7N9 strain killed an estimated 300 people in 2016-2017, there are no additional reports of human infections with bird flu. Filip Claes of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases said that the H10N3 virus is one of the rare strains.
Scientists discovered about 160 isolates of the virus during the last 40 years. Most came from wild birds or waterfowl in Asia. In addition, there are strains found in birds living in parts of North America.
So ar, virus strains have yet to be detected in chickens, he added. Analyzing the genetic data of the virus is necessary to determine whether it resembles older viruses or if it is a novel mix of different viruses, Claes said.
Should You Be Concerned About The H10N3 Virus?
When bird flu spreads from birds to humans, it becomes a cause for concern. According to Dr. Amersh Adalja, John Hopkins senior scholar, “It’s a critical barrier for an avian virus to cross. Only a small subset of avian flu viruses can do this.” When this happens, the viruses can cause illness that ranges from mild to severe.
Meanwhile, Dr. William Schaffner, infectious disease specialist, said that another cause for concern is the ability to spread from person to person. “If it had that capacity, it would be the setting for a pandemic of influenza,” he added.
Watch the WION news video reporting on the first human case of H10N3 in China:
Can the world survive another global pandemic given what happened with coronavirus? Do you think that this new bird flu variant can make it to pandemic levels?
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