China has reportedly recorded its first case of human infection with H3N8 bird flu, but the risk of its spread among people is low.
The H3n8 Bird Flu virus causing the new outbreak was found in a four-year-old boy from the central province of Henan province on April 5. He had fever and other symptoms.
The child’s parents said in a statement that he had been in contact with chickens and crows who lived at his home.
H3n8 Bird Flu
The H3N8 variant has been found in animals including horses, dogs and seals. No cases of human exposure to the virus have been reported yet. The genetic analysis of this H3N8 virus suggests it is a reassortant strain that also has genes from in poultry and wildlife, said Nicola Lewis, an influenza expert at the Royal Veterinary College in Britain.
The virus demands extensive surveillance, said Erik Karlsson, head of the virology unit at the Institute Pasteur in Cambodia.
The implication in the 1889 influenza pandemic, known as the Russian flu, was “a major concern for the risk of the virus”. He added.
China’s population of farmed and wild birds provide a perfect breeding ground for avian viruses to mix and mutate. Some sporadically infect people, usually those who work with poultry.
Last year, China reported the first human case of H10N3.
According to the health commission, an initial study found that the variation was not yet able to infect people and that the danger of a large-scale outbreak was low.
Though rare, humans can acquire adaptive mutations that potentially allow viruses to more easily spread in mammals, said Professor Karlsson. “We need to be concerned about all spillover events,” he said.