A woman in China died in late March due to a specific strain of bird flu called avian influenza A(H3N8), a disease which has three recorded cases of human infection, according to a report by the World Health Organization.
The report said the patient had several underlying conditions and high exposure to live poultry. Samples gathered from her home and a local wet market, where she spent lots of time before the illness set in, came back positive for the avian influenza subtype.
Reuters said human infections of bird flu are not uncommon in China, since the disease circulates in high poultry and wild bird populations.
The report said avian influenza A(H3N8) “does not have the ability to spread easily from person to person, and therefore the risk of it spreading among humans at the national, regional and international levels is considered to be low.”
Due to the “constantly evolving nature of influenza viruses,” the international health agency reminds the public it is important to watch for influenza viruses so appropriate medical changes can be made to benefit human or animal health, the report said.
The Deseret News has previously reported on a different strain of avian flu, H5N1, after an outbreak happened between minks and other animals in February.
Bird flu and humans
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the first two cases of this avian subtype in humans occurred last year, also in China.
“H3N8 bird flu has never been detected in the United States in people; however, H3N8 viruses of a different genetic lineage have been detected in U.S. wild birds and some mammals in the past,” the CDC said.
The CDC has different suggestions for travelers heading to countries experiencing bird flu outbreaks, including:
- Don’t eat poultry products that are raw or undercooked.
- Avoid poultry farms, bird markets and places where poultry live.
- Go to a doctor if any sickness comes before or after the trip.
The report suggests practicing good hand hygiene, using hand sanitizer and wearing respiratory protection when entering a risky environment.
“Given the observed extent and frequency of avian influenza cases in wild birds and some wild mammals, the public should avoid contact with animals that are sick or dead from unknown causes and should report occurrences to the authorities,” the report said.