Not now bird flu! China confirms first human case of H3N8 strain

Not now bird flu! China confirms first human case of H3N8 strain

  • A four-year-old boy from Henan Province was first confirmed to be infected with H3N8
  • The child had contact with chickens and crows raised in his home
  • But none of the close contacts have contracted the disease and officials say the risk to the public is low

China has recorded its first-ever human case of the H3N8 bird flu strain.

Local health chiefs confirmed that a four-year-old boy from Zhumadian, Henan Province, had contracted the bird flu virus.

The child – with a fever – had contact with chickens and crows that were raised in his home.

The virus usually spreads through contact with infected birds and their droppings, or when infected poultry is prepared for cooking.

None of the boy’s contacts were infected with the strain.

China’s National Health Commission has not provided any update on the boy. The committee added that bird flu is believed to kill up to half of those infected.

Early investigations suggested that the strain did not have the ability to pass from human to human, leading Chinese doctors to claim that the risk of a large-scale outbreak was low.

The H3N8 variant – one of several types of bird flu – is common in horses and dogs and has even been found in seals. However, no human cases have been reported to date.

The NHC advised people to avoid direct contact with live poultry and to seek medical attention if they develop any telltale symptoms of the flu.

The National Health Commission (NHC) announced on Tuesday that a four-year-old boy from Zhumadian City, Henan Province, had been confirmed to have a fever on April 5. The child had contact with chickens and crows that were raised in his home. The virus usually spreads through contact with infected birds and their droppings, or when infected poultry are prepared for cooking

Bird flu can cause fever, muscle aches, headache and cough — similar to the traditional form of the virus.

Those affected may also have diarrhea, nausea, stomach pain, chest pain, nosebleeds and gums, as well as conjunctivitis.

Infected people are treated at home or in a hospital, and are isolated. Antiviral medications can reduce the severity of the disease.

Nicola Lewis, an influenza expert at the UK’s Royal Veterinary College, said analysis of the genome of the case – which was identified a three-hour drive north of Wuhan – showed it was a reconstitution.

This means that it contains a mixture of genes from viruses previously discovered in poultry and wild birds.

There are many strains of bird flu in China. It has a large population of farmed and wild birds, which encourages avian viruses to mingle and mutate.

Most of them do not infect humans. Only four strains have caused concern in recent years after infecting humans – H5N1, H7N9, H5N6 and H5N8.

Mortality rates for bird flu in humans have been estimated to be as high as 50 percent.

But transmission to humans is very rare. Less than 500 deaths from bird flu have been reported to the World Health Organization since 1997.

Britain saw the biggest outbreak of bird flu ever last month, after H5N1 cases began rising in November after it was first detected in North Yorkshire.

Alan Gosling, a 79-year-old grandfather who lives in Devon, became the UK’s first human case of H5N1 after contracting it from ducks in his home.

He isolated himself at his home for three weeks at the beginning of the year until he tested negative.

Bird flu measures introduced in an attempt to control the outbreak mean Britons can no longer buy free-range bird eggs due to the length of time the chickens are kept indoors.

By the end of March, 863 human cases of H5N1 had been confirmed in 18 countries and 455 had been fatal.

The World Health Organization has also recorded 75 confirmed cases and 32 deaths from H5N6.

A virus that kills up to 50% of people … but its transmission is rare: all you need to know about bird flu

What is bird flu?

Avian influenza, or avian influenza, is a contagious type of influenza that spreads among bird species, but may, in rare cases, be transmitted to humans.

Like human influenza, there are many strains of bird flu:

The current outbreak of birds in the UK is H5N1, the strain from which the infected Briton is suffering.

Where was it spotted in the UK?

There are currently 96 cases of H5N1 avian influenza in England. There are also two cases in Wales and two cases in Scotland.

How lethal is the virus?

Mortality rates for bird flu in humans have been estimated to be as high as 50 percent.

But due to the rarity of transmission to humans, about 500 bird flu deaths have been reported to the World Health Organization since 1997.

Is it transmitted from birds to humans?

Bird-to-human transmission is rare and does not usually spread from person to person.

Avian influenza is spread by close contact with an infected bird or with a single object.

This could include:

  • touching infected birds
  • Touching faeces or bedding
  • Killing infected poultry or preparing them for cooking

Professor Ian Jones, a virologist at the University of Reading, said: ‘Transmission of bird flu to people is rare because it requires direct contact between an infected bird, usually a dead bird, and the person in question.

It is a risk to handlers tasked with disposing of bodies after an outbreak but the virus is not generally spreading and does not pose a significant threat.

“It doesn’t behave like the seasonal flu we’re used to.

“Despite the currently heightened concern about viruses, there is no risk to chicken meat or eggs and there is no cause for public concern.”

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of bird flu usually take three to five days to appear, with the most common being:

  • Extremely high temperature
  • or feeling hot or shivering
  • muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Cough or shortness of breath

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