Officials in southern China have reported that a 56-year-old woman from Zhongshan City has tested positive for H3N8 bird flu, marking the third time the virus has been found in humans. The Guangdong Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention said that the woman had exposure to live poultry before falling ill and had multiple myeloma and other underlying health conditions. Wild birds are also frequently found near her home. No details about her condition have been released.
What is H3N8 bird flu?
H3N8 bird flu is a subtype of the influenza A virus that primarily affects birds, including wild birds and domestic poultry. The virus can cause respiratory illness in birds and can be transmitted from birds to humans, although human infections are rare. H3N8 is one of several bird flu strains that have caused concern in recent years due to their potential to mutate and cause more severe disease. In addition to birds, H3N8 has been found to infect horses and dogs and is one of the viruses responsible for the canine influenza outbreak that began in the United States in 2004.
First Human Case since May 2022
The H3N8 virus was first confirmed in humans in April 2022, when a 4-year-old boy in central China became seriously ill. The family’s pets, a dog and a cat, were also infected. A second person, a 5-year-old boy from Hunan province, was infected in May 2022. He recovered quickly after only mild symptoms, according to the Chinese government. H3N8 is found in birds and horses and is one of the two viruses that cause dog flu.
While this is only the third confirmed case ofH3N8 bird flu in humans, researchers have long believed that a previous strain of the virus may have caused the 1889 pandemic, which was known as “Asiatic flu” or “Russian flu.” However, more recent research suggests a strain of coronavirus may have caused the pandemic.
The Guangdong CDC said that no abnormalities have been found in close contact so far and that the risk of virus transmission is low at this stage. Experts believe that this is a sporadic case.