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China reports first H10N3 bird flu cross-species transmission to humans

World health officials say the transmission of avian influences to humans is rare and typically happens in markets where poultry is sold

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Slaughtered chickens are displayed for sale at a wholesale poultry market in Shanghai.

In this Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014, file photo, slaughtered chickens are displayed for sale at a wholesale poultry market in Shanghai. The Chinese government says a 41-year-old man has contracted what might be the world’s first human case of the H10N3 strain of bird flu, but the risk of large-scale spread is low.

Associated Press

A Chinese man has become ill with what may be the first human case of H10N3 avian influenza, according to The Associated Press.

“This infection is an accidental cross-species transmission,” Chinese authorities said in a statement, the AP reported. “The risk of large-scale transmission is low.”

China’s National Health Commission said the 41-year-old man was hospitalized on April 28 and was diagnosed with the H10N3 avian influenza virus a month later on May 28, Reuters reported. Authorities did not say how the Zhenjiang city man became infected, but that he was in stable condition and was prepared to be released from the hospital, according to Reuters.

The World Health Organization says the transmission of avian influenzas to humans are rare and typically related to “direct or indirect contact with infected live or dead poultry.”

What is avian influenza?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, avian influenzas are diseases that occur naturally in wild birds, can infect domestic birds and do not typically transfer to humans. “However, sporadic human infections with avian flu viruses have occurred,” as reported on the CDC website.

  • The “H” and “N” used to identify avian influenzas represent different hemagglutinin and neuraminidase proteins of the specific virus, according to the CDC.
  • “Bird flu viruses can infect people when enough virus gets into a person’s eyes, nose or mouth, or is inhaled. This might happen when virus is in the air (in droplets or possibly dust) and a person breathes it in, or when a person touches something that has virus on it and then touches their mouth, eyes or nose,” said the CDC of avian influenza transmissions to humans.

Reuters reported that there hasn’t been a large infection of avian flu in humans since around 300 people were killed by H7N9 in 2016-2017.

  • “Most of the cases of human infection with this avian H7N9 virus have reported recent exposure to live poultry or potentially contaminated environments, especially markets where live birds have been sold,” according to the World Health Organization.
  • “Rare instances of limited person-to-person spread of this virus have been identified in China, but there is no evidence of sustained person-to-person spread,” said the CDC of the H7N9 outbreak.