China Reports Human Case of Bird Flu: What’s H10N3 Strain?
A 41-year-old man from Zhenjiang, China, is the first human to be infected by the H10N3 strain of bird flu.
The affected, a 41-year-old man, is a resident of the city of Zhenjiang, and was diagnosed with H10N3 bird flu after he was hospitalised for fever and other symptoms, that persisted for over a month.
No details have been released on how he might have been infected.
Is bird flu communicable? Here’s what we know about the H10N3 strain so far.
What is Avian Flu?
Avian influenza or bird flu refers to illness caused by Avian influenza type A viruses.
These viruses naturally occur in wildlife but can also affect domestic poultry and birds. According to the US CDC, avian influenza viruses rarely infect people, but sporadic infections do occur.
What do we know about this particular strain?
H10N3 is one of many strains of bird flu that have been identified so far. However, this is the first noted instance of it infecting humans. According to the China’s National Health Commission, the H10N3 strain is a low pathogenic, which means it is less likely to induce disease.
Although, according to the US CDC, the 'low' and 'high' pathogenicity in avian flu refers to the virus's potential to kill poultry and is not necessarily a marker for how infectious it is in humans.
A number of different strains of bird flu are generally present in the environment, but they rarely or only sporadically affect humans.
How does bird flu spread?
In people, bird flu is generally transmitted from infected birds.
This means people who work closely with poultry, and come in contact with sick birds, are at a higher risk of getting infected.
So far, the spread of bird flu from one infected person to another has been extremely rare.
Moreover, till date, no evidence indicates that anyone has been infected after consuming properly cooked poultry or poultry products, even when these foods were contaminated with the avian influenza virus.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has maintained that it is ‘safe’ to eat chicken and eggs as long as it is ‘properly prepared and cooked’.
What are the symptoms of bird flu?
Much like other types of flu, common symptoms of bird flu in humans include:
- Muscle ache
- Sore throat
But, considering this is the first case of infection caused by the H10N3 strain, further observation and study will be required to determine if this particular strain causes any other specific symptoms.
(This story was first published in FIT and has been republished here with permission.)
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