China’s National Health Commission (NHC) announced Tuesday that a 41-year-old man had been confirmed as the first human case of infection with a rare avian flu called H10N3. The case was recorded in the Chinese province of Jiangsu in eastern China. Many different strains of bird flu exist in China, and some infect people sporadically, usually those who work with poultry. There is currently no evidence that H10N3 can be easily transmitted to humans.
The man, a resident of Zhenjiang City, was hospitalized on April 18 and diagnosed with H10N3 on May 28, the health commission said. He did not give any details about the man’s infection. It is now stable and ready to be released. Investigation of his close contacts revealed no other cases, the NHC said. No other cases of human infection with H10N3 have been reported worldwide, the commission said.
A weakly pathogenic virus
H10N3 is low in pathogen, which means it causes relatively less severe disease in poultry and is unlikely to cause widespread epidemic, the NHC added. The strain is “not a very common virus,” said Filip Claes, regional laboratory coordinator for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Emergency Center for Cross-Border Animal Diseases at the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.
Analysis of the virus’ genetic data will be needed to determine if it looks like older viruses or if it is a new mix of different viruses, Claes said. Since the H7N9 strain killed around 300 people between 2016 and 2017, there have been no significant number of human infections with avian flu.