China Medical News
: Health authorities in China have confirmed in the last 24 hours the first known human case of the H3N8 strain of avian flu. The patient was identified as a four-year boy from Central Henan province. Despite authorities say there is a low risk of widespread transmission among individuals, a group of 6 other individuals are also being investigated as possibly having contracted the virus as well.
The H3N8 Avian flu virus is known to have been circulating since 2002 after first emerging in North American waterfowl. It is known to infect horses, dogs and seals, but has not previously been detected in humans.
The China's National Health Commission on Tuesday said a four-year-old boy living in central Henan province tested positive for the strain after being hospitalized earlier this month with a fever and other symptoms.
According to local China Medical News
, it was reported that the boy's family raised chickens at home and lived in an area populated by wild ducks.
According to a statement by the China's National Health Commission, the boy was infected directly by birds and the strain was not found to have "the ability to effectively infect humans.” It added that tests of the boy's close human contacts found "no abnormalities".
The China's National Health Commission further added that the boy's case was a "one-off cross-species transmission, and the risk of large-scale transmission is low".
Health authorities warned the public to nevertheless stay away from dead or sick birds and seek immediate treatment for fever or respiratory symptoms.
Despite these assurances, it was reported that six other individuals in the same neighborhood have been quarantined after developing flu-like symptoms and are currently being investigated for possible H3N8 Avian flu infection.
Typically, Avian influenza occurs mainly in wild birds and poultry. Cases of transmission between humans are extremely rare.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control, the H5N1 and H7N9 strains of bird flu, detected in 1997 and 2013, respectively, have been responsible for most cases of human illness from avian influenza.
According to the World Health Organization or WHO, human infections of zoonotic, or animal-borne, influenzas are "primarily acquired through direct contact with infected animals or contaminated environments, but do not result in efficient transmission of these viruses between individuals.”
Interestingly, in 2012, H3N8 was blamed for the deaths of more than 160 seals off the northeastern coast of the United States after it caused deadly pneumonia in the animals.
Many different strains of bird flu are present in China and some sporadically infect people, usually those working with poultry.
Last year China reported the first human case of H10N3.
China has huge populations of both farmed and wild birds of many species, creating an ideal environment for avian viruses to mix and mutate.
China is at the mome
nt in a midst of a major SARS-CoV-2 surge with major cities reporting daily COVID-19 infections. Besides Shanghai, a number of other smaller cities are also under lockdown and the main capital Beijing is now also reporting daily infections with a possibility that the capital might come und lockdown soon as well.
China’s Zero COVID policy is proving to be futile against the various Omicron variants especially the BA.2 and BA.4 variant and emerging subvariants that are spreading fast all over China.
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