- First Human Case of H10N3 bird flu strain reported by health authorities in China.
- This particular strain is extremely rare and does not cause severe disease in poultry.
- Authorities claim there is currently no evidence of human-to-human transmission of the virus.
China is once again in the spotlight, and this time it’s for H10N3, a rare bird flu strain. On Tuesday, 1st June, Beijing’s National Health Commission (NHC) reported the first human case of H10N3 bird flu.
The 41-year-old man from Jiangsu province in China first experienced flu-like symptoms in late April. Then, on 28th April, his symptoms exacerbated, and he was admitted to the hospital. Researchers immediately sent his samples for genome sequencing which came back positive for the H10N3 strain. Moreover, all close contacts of the patient were kept under medical observation. However, doctors did not find any abnormalities.
Although the patient is now stabilized and ready for discharge from the hospital, it is unclear as to how he got the infection.
Currently, there is no evidence of human-to-human transmission. Moreover, whole genomic sequencing had revealed the strain to be low pathogenic to poultry. Therefore, Chinese health authorities believe the risk of a large-scale outbreak is low.
What is the H10N3 Bird Flu Strain?
Influenza virus is of four types: A, B, C, and D. Out of these, Influenza A is responsible for causing pandemics. These viruses are then further divided into subtypes based on their proteins, hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N). They not only circulate in humans but also in animals such as birds and pigs. However, sometimes close contact with poultry and pigs can cause these viruses to jump from animals into humans and lead to pandemics.
Therefore, the World Health Organization believes that circulating strains of bird flu viruses will always pose a threat of a flu pandemic in humans. Currently, the H5N8 bird flu strain is causing the greatest concern among researchers. Earlier this year, Russian authorities reported seven human cases of the strain. Since then, outbreaks of the highly pathogenic strain have occurred in several countries across the world.
Although evidence suggests that the H10N3 strain is rare and of low pathogenicity, the fact remains that influenza viruses can easily mutate and cross species; resulting in pandemics. Therefore, researchers should continue to closely monitor the virus and the risk of an outbreak.
National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China.