Technocrat Media, Global
The first human case of the H3N8 strain of bird flu has been detected in China for the first time.
TheGuardian says it was discovered from a four-year-old boy from the central province of Henan, who was infected after coming in contact with chickens and crows raised by his parents.
Avian influenza or bird flu as the disease is commonly known is a highly contagious viral disease with the first reports of human cases in the 1990s.
Some strains of the bird flu have been passed to humans in the past. However, the chances of contracting the disease are currently very rare and usually occur after very close contact with infected birds or animals.
It has also been proven that the H3N8 virus circulates very widely in birds and horses. A few cases have also been detected in dogs in North America.
Peter Horby, a professor of emerging infectious diseases and global health at the University of Oxford said: “We often see a virus spread to a human and then not spread any further so a single case is not a cause of great concern.”
Another professor at the University of Edinburgh, Paul Digard also shared a similar opinion in line with Horby.
“There is no reason to think it will go any further,” he said.
The university don also added that Chinese authorities were yet to report any other illness in the immediate contact of the infected boy.
However, disease experts across the UK, US, and Europe have raised concerns over the transmission of the disease in all three regions. They believe a high increase could result in an opportunity for avian viruses to mix and mutate and for human infection.
“We need to increase influenza surveillance globally and concertedly right now. Apart from H3N8, we have seen a number of other new spillover events of influenza from poultry to people over the years,” said Alexandra Phelan, an assistant professor, and disease expert at Georgetown University.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has initiated an investigation aimed at understanding how to effectively contain the new variant.