Avian H5N8, first case in China of humans infected by birds

A few weeks ago we wrote that it is often said that one pandemic leads to another, unfortunately, but what two Chinese scientists, Weifeng Shi and George Fu Gao have speculated that it could happen soon is really worrying.

However, the two in the prestigious journal Science argued that, after the Coronavirus, we should expect another pandemic caused by the well-known avian influenza virus encoded as H5N8 and above all by its variants.

The pathogen is not new and has been circulating in Europe for over six years, affecting millions of wild birds and chickens.

In February of this year, Russia had already warned, contrary to what China had done for Covid-19, that the virus had infected humans for the first time. In the specific case of the workers employed on a “exhibition” farm of nearly one million hens in Astrakhan. Positive that no one had shown symptoms.

And today a 41-year-old man in Jiangsu province in eastern China is the first to be infected with the H10N3 avian flu, according to the country’s health authorities, who say there is no indication that the disease is contagious. person to person and that the risk of widespread spread is “very low”. Indeed, the Chinese health care had kept the same reticence also on the occasion of the Coronavirus.

The man, from Zhenjiang, began feeling ill on April 23 with symptoms including fever. Five days later he was hospitalized. On May 28, it was discovered that he had been infected with the avian flu variant, H10N3. The first case detected in the world.

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The Chinese Health Commission communiqué does not say exactly how the patient, already recovering and about to be discharged, could have become infected. He points out that the H10N3 virus, a subtype of the one that causes avian flu, comes from birds and lacks the ability to effectively infect humans, so many more infections are unlikely to recur. The patient’s contacts were traced and no other incidents were detected.

“No cases of H10N3 have been detected in humans anywhere in the world,” recalls the Commission, which points out that even among birds this virus is relatively non-infectious. “This case is an occasional bird-to-human zoonotic transmission; the risk of a large-scale spread is very low.

Chinese health workers have asked citizens to avoid contact with dead birds and try not to get close to live ones. Call a doctor immediately if you have symptoms such as fever or breathing difficulties.

Among birds, H10N3 spreads in a similar way to the common flu or Covid, through the small droplets dispersed by animals in their breath.

Human virus infections that cause avian flu are not uncommon, and China is a country where these strains emerge relatively frequently.

The whole world hopes that this time the Chinese present reality correctly.


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