An unnamed 41-year-old man from Jiangsu, a province close to Shanghai, is possibly the first confirmed human case of infection with the H10N3 strain of the bird flu. He was admitted to the hospital on April 28 with fever and symptoms associated with the sickness, reported USA Today via MSN.
Another outlet, Reuters, followed up on the report. The patient was diagnosed with the infection on May 28. He was eventually stabilized and released by the hospital.
China's National Health Commission (NHC) said that the chance that this case was because of an accidental cross-species transmission is low. Chinese officials state that the risk of widespread transmission is minimal, and no other human cases of H10N3 were detected elsewhere in the world.
What is known about the H10N3 strain?
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that the avian influenza impacts birds' respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts. It is found in many wild bird species worldwide.
Birds transmit the virus via their saliva, mucus, and feces, said the US CDC. It does not usually infect humans. In cases where a significant amount of the virus enters a person's eyes, nose, or mouth, a human infection can occur.
H7N9 and H5N1 are two types of avian flu viruses that have been mainly responsible for human infection and deaths.
Bird influenza infections can manifest as conjunctivitis, or flu-like symptoms, such as fever, cough, sore throat, and muscle aches. Other symptoms are nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and severe respiratory illness, said the CDC. Cases can range from moderate to severe.
Can this be the next pandemic?
Jürgen Richt is a professor at Kansas State University and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases Expert and the director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases for the Department of Homeland Security. He said that some of these viruses could transfer from birds to humans. They are not known to spread between humans.
According to Richt, there is a chance that if the bird flu strain were to be transmissible from human to human, it might exceed COVID-19 in deaths as the next pandemic, as per Yahoo.
Bird flu strains can be highly volatile in human populations. H7N9 has a 30 percent case fatality rate, while H5N1 has a 60 percent case death rate, according to the World Health Organization.
The H10N3 strain may not be capable of transmitting between humans, as mentioned by Richt. However, scientists still need to find out its genetic information and undertake epidemiological monitoring to determine whether any other contacts have been diagnosed.
Jurgen Richt added that avian influenza viruses spread among birds with more than one receptor compared to mammalian influenza viruses. However, it needs to adapt significantly, but the strain has not done so, noted CA Posts.
Experts continue to monitor the first case of bird flu H10N3 strain in China.