China reports first human case of H3N8 bird flu, 4-year-old boy found infected

China: Four-year-old boy found to be infected with bird flu virus (Renderal)


China has confirmed the first known human case of the H3N8 strain of bird flu, but health authorities say there is a low risk of widespread transmission between people.

H3N8 is known to have been circulating since 2002 after first appearing in waterfowl in North America. It is known to infect horses, dogs, and seals, but has not previously been detected in humans.

China’s National Health Commission said Tuesday that a four-year-old boy living in central Henan province tested positive for the strain after being hospitalized earlier this month with a fever and other symptoms.

The boy’s family raised chickens at home and lived in an area populated by wild ducks, the NHC said in a statement.

The child was directly infected by birds and the strain was not found to have “the ability to effectively infect humans”, the commission said.

It added that tests of the boy’s close human contacts found “no abnormalities.”

The NHC said the boy’s case was a “unique cross-species transmission, and the risk of large-scale transmission is low.”

However, he warned the public to stay away from dead or sick birds and seek immediate treatment for fever or respiratory symptoms.

Avian influenza occurs mainly in wild birds and poultry. Cases of human-to-human transmission are extremely rare.

The H5N1 and H7N9 strains of bird flu, detected in 1997 and 2013, respectively, have been responsible for most cases of human illness from bird flu, according to the US Centers for Disease Control.

Human infections with zoonotic or animal-borne influenza “are acquired primarily through direct contact with infected animals or contaminated environments, but do not result in efficient transmission of these viruses between people,” according to the World Health Organization.

In 2012, H3N8 was blamed for the deaths of more than 160 seals off the northeast coast of the United States after it caused deadly pneumonia in the animals.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)

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