One human case of H10N3 bird flu found in China’s Jiangsu province, experts say risk of mass transmission is extremely low

China’s National Health and Wellness Commission said on Tuesday (June 1) that a human case of H10N3 avian influenza has been detected in Jiangsu province. The health commission also said that experts have assessed that this is an incidental cross-species transmission from avian to human and that the risk of a large-scale transmission epidemic is extremely low.

The Health and Welfare Commission informed on its website that the patient infected with H10N3 avian influenza is a 41-year-old man who lives in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu province. The man developed fever and other symptoms on April 23, and was admitted to a local medical facility on April 28 for treatment of an aggravated condition. The patient is now in stable condition and has largely met the criteria for discharge.

The Health Care Commission also said, “The CDC conducted a whole genome sequence assay on the patient specimen sent from Jiangsu Province on May 28, and the result was positive for H10N3 virus. Medical observation of all close contacts in Jiangsu Province and local emergency monitoring were conducted and no abnormalities were found.”

The agency said experts assessed that the H10N3 virus is of avian origin, is low pathogenic to birds and has no effective ability to infect humans, and no other cases of human infection with H10N3 have been reported globally. Experts also said that the outbreak is an occasional interspecies transmission from avian to human, and the risk of a large-scale transmission epidemic is extremely low.

Experts also advised people to avoid contact with sick and dead birds in their daily lives and to avoid direct contact with live birds as much as possible. While paying attention to dietary hygiene, it is also necessary to raise awareness of self-protection and wear a mask after the onset of fever and other symptoms, and seek medical attention as soon as possible.

According to Reuters, Filip Claes, regional laboratory coordinator for the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific’s Transboundary Animal Disease Emergency Response Centre, said the strain is “not a very common virus”.

He added that as of 2018, only about 160 isolates of the virus have been reported globally over a 40-year period, mainly in wild birds or waterfowl in parts of Asia and North America, and so far no virus has been found in chickens.

Klass also said that analyzing the genetic data of the virus will be necessary to determine whether it is similar to previous viruses or a new combination of different viruses.

Avian influenza is an animal infection caused by a virus that has multiple subtypes and usually infects only birds and poultry, but a very few subtypes are able to infect humans and cause disease.

China has had several previous outbreaks of avian influenza. A study released by several Chinese academics said that China first reported human infections with the H7N9 virus in 2013, and that “as of November 2018 a total of 1,536 cases were reported in 27 provinces in mainland China, including 611 deaths, with a 39.78% disease and death rate.”

Russia had notified the World Health Organization in February this year that the avian influenza A H5N8 virus had been detected in seven human clinical specimens. This was also the first report of the detection of avian influenza A H5N8 in humans.