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China Records First Ever Human Case of H3N8 Avian Flu - What Does It Mean?

H3N8 avian flu was first found in birds in 2002. Before that it was detected in horses in the 1960s and 70s.

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China Records First Ever Human Case of H3N8 Avian Flu - What Does It Mean?
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The first ever human case of H3N8 avian flu was confirmed in China on Tuesday, 26 April.

While H3N8 avian flu can infect horses, ducks, seals, dogs, and cats, authorities say that the chances of human infection and transmission are low.

H3N8 avian influenza was first recorded in 2002 in North American waterfowl like ducks, geese, and swans.

H3N8 is a virus endemic to horses(predominantly) and birds and has been traced as far back as 1978 in horses. H3N8 primarily infects horses with a condition called equine influenza.

While H3N8 is highly transmissible in some animals, this is the first ever reported and confirmed case of a human being infected with H3N8.

According to China's National Health Commission, a four-year-old boy from the Henan province tested positive for H3N8 after he was hospitalised earlier in April with a fever.

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"The boy was infected directly by birds. His family raised chickens and they lived in a place populated by ducks. The strain doesn't have the ability to effectively infect humans."
National Health Commission, China

The NHC also stated that it ran tests on the patient's family and closest contacts and detected no abnormalities.

"This appears to be a one-off instance of cross-species transmission of H3N8. Large-scale transmission risk is extremely low," they added.

Regardless of this statement, it issued a caution to the public to avoid dead birds and contact a doctor immediately if they experience a fever or other respiratory symptoms.

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