Chinese officials have reported what seems to be the first-ever human case of the H10N3 strain of bird flu in the world. It has infected a 41-year-old man on April 28, 2021, announced China’s National Health Commission (NHC) on June 1.
The H10N3 is a subtype of viruses that causes influenza (flu). Mostly affecting wild birds and other avian species, but now it has been found to affect humans. Found mostly in various wild birds, the domestic avian species and mammals have been acquiring this type of flu rapidly for the past few years and the birds have shown adaptation to it. This type of virus has been isolated across an extensive geographic distribution and in a wide variety of species like poultry, duct, birds, etc. H10N3 has shown great potential for mutation and has a complex pathology in the host (ducks, mice, chicken, etc.) which can be a threat to humans. But many scientists believe that this strain is less severe and it is very highly unlikely for it to cause a significant outbreak, unlike its relative strains.
The H10N3 strain was reported in a 41-year-old man, from the city of Zhenjiang. He reportedly developed fever, which progressed over a few days, and on the 6th day, (April 28th) he went to the nearby hospital to get proper treatment. This virus causes mild illness in the avian and animals (natural hosts) but this can’t be true for humans, as the mutations can change the pathological patterns of the virus. 1 month after the admission (May 28th) the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC) took samples and did the genetic analysis that attested the presence of H10N3 in him.
Right after the confirmation of the disease in the man, his close relatives were tested and the nearby province of Jiangsu was monitored for the disease, and no additional cases were found. The good news is the man who was infected is now medically stable and is ready to be discharged from the hospital, as the NHC informed in its official statement. Details about H10N3 are scarce at the moment, but it is known to cause these possible symptoms; pink eye, fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting, shortness of breath, pneumonia, altered mental status, and seizure. It is treated the same way as the ‘ordinary flu’.
The scientists need to examine the genetic material of the strain of that infected man, thoroughly and to observe how this particular strain differs from the others, that were reported in the past. It isn’t very common for this particular strain of virus to jump from one species to another that easily, as is evident from the 160 samples, collected from the 1970s to 2018. Though we aren’t yet clear as to how or when that 41 years old man got infected but it seems like there are few chances for a large-scale spread of the disease. But because the last bird flu H7N9 had caused a significant outbreak among humans in the past, responsible for 300+ mortalities in just one year (2016 – 2017) so the new cases affecting from H10N3 should be monitored carefully. Back in 1957, the avian flu virus H2N2 has sparked a full-scale pandemic, so did H1N1 in the year 1918, also, Russian authorities have reported the first case of avian flu virus H5N8 in humans from chicken, so we can’t take this new strain H10N3 very lightly.
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