The first case of the H10N3 bird flu strain has been reported in China. A 41-year-old man in Jiangsu was taken to the hospital with symptoms of a fever on April 28, said China’s national health commission. More than a month later, he was diagnosed with the H10N3 influenza virus.
The commission did not provide any details about the circumstances surrounding the infection. However, the NHC has stated that “the risk of large-scale spread is extremely low.” The man was in a stable condition, ready to be discharged from the hospital. His family members and others who had been in close contact had reported no “abnormalities” whatsoever.
H10N3 has been described as a low pathogenic strain of the virus found in poultry, and the risk of it spreading wide and large is low. Filip Cakes, the regional laboratory coordinator of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases has declared the strain as “not a very common virus.”
Only 160 strains of the H10N3 had been found in 40 years till 2018. These isolates had mostly been detected in wild birds, waterfowl in Asia, and a few areas of Northern America. According to Cales, no virus had been seen in chickens so far, until now.
To form a more concrete conclusion, it would be important to analyze the genetic make of the virus to determine whether it accumulated old strains of virus or if it was a new mix of different viruses altogether, said Cakes.
Numerous strains of bird flu have been observed among animals in China, but massive outbreaks are rare and unlikely. The last epidemic of bird flu in China was recorded in the year 2016-2017, with the dominant H7N9 virus. Statistics elicited from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization go to show that the H7N9 has infected nearly 1,668 people and taken 616 lives since 2013.
At present, the NHC is still investigating how the man contracted the virus. So far, an exhaustive search has not found any other human cases of the H10N3 virus. Thus, at this point, the virus cannot be transferred from humans and the man who ended up getting infected has most likely caught the flu from a bird itself. With this situation in play, health experts in China are issuing warnings for people to avoid close contact with live poultry, including chickens, geese, turkeys, and ducks.