A 41-year-old man in China’s eastern Jiangsu Province has been confirmed as the first human case of infection with a rare avian flu called H10N3, China’s National Health Commission (NHC) said Tuesday.
Many different strains of bird flu exist in China, and some sporadically infect people, usually those who work with poultry. There is no evidence that H10N3 can spread easily in humans.
The man, a resident of Zhenjiang City, was hospitalized on April 18 and diagnosed with H10N3 on May 28, the health commission said. She did not provide any details about the man’s infection.
He is stable now and can be released. The investigation of his close contacts revealed no further cases, said the NHC. No other cases of human H10N3 infection have been reported worldwide.
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.
The strain is “not a very common virus,” said Filip Claes, regional laboratory coordinator for the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Emergency Center for Cross-Border Animal Diseases at the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.
In the 40 years leading up to 2018, only about 160 isolates of the virus had been reported, mostly in wild or waterfowl in Asia and some limited parts of North America, and none had been detected in chickens, he added.
Analysis of the virus’ genetic data will be necessary to determine if it resembles older viruses or if it is a novel mix of different viruses, Claes said.
There have been no significant numbers of bird flu infections in humans since the H7N9 strain killed around 300 people in 2016-2017.
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