Chinese health authorities said a 41-year-old man had contracted a rare strain of bird flu known as H10N3 and had been in the hospital since late April, calling it the first reported human case globally from the strain. The National Health Commission said the man developed a fever and other symptoms on April 23 and was admitted to hospital in Jiangsu province five days later. On Tuesday the health commission said his condition was stable and indicated he was ready to be discharged.
How did the man become infected?
The health commission didn’t give details on how the man came into contact with the virus. Cases of bird flu in humans have most commonly been reported among those in close daily contact with poultry, such as chicken farmers. The commission advised the public to avoid contact with sick and dead poultry.
Can bird flu kill people?
Avian influenza can be fatal in humans. Highly pathogenic strains, such as H5N1, can have a mortality rate of about 60%, according to the World Health Organization. However, the WHO says, bird flu doesn’t spread easily from birds to people.
How common are bird-flu outbreaks in China?
China has seen several outbreaks of bird flu, including one at the height of the coronavirus outbreak last year, when H5N1 avian influenza killed 4,500 chickens in central Hunan province, prompting authorities to cull another nearly 18,000 birds.
In May, China’s Agriculture Ministry said the H5N8 strain of bird flu killed hundreds of wild birds in Tibet, prompting authorities to disinfect areas including a national wetland park.
Are authorities worried?
China said the risk of a large-scale outbreak was extremely low. It said local health authorities’ contact-tracing and monitoring efforts had found no other cases and no human-to-human transmission. It said the H10N3 strain doesn’t have the ability to effectively infect humans.
What do experts say?
Human infections with bird-flu viruses are rare but not uncommon, said Adolfo Garcia-Sastre, a professor at the department of microbiology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.
“It is highly likely that this infection just represents one of the rare incidents of human infection with an avian influenza virus, without any more consequences,” said Prof. Garcia-Sastre. “Nevertheless, it’s important to make sure that this is just that, a rare isolated incident.”
Is China upfront about the recent bird-flu case?
China said it had determined on May 28 through genome sequencing that the man suffered from the H10N3 strain. It issued its statement on the results on Tuesday.
While China has been criticized for a lack of transparency in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, its public-health apparatus is generally seen as having become more transparent since the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, when official secrecy hampered the response.
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