H3N8 Bird flu claims its first victim in China: WHO
The World Health Organization announces the death of a Chinese woman in the Guangdong province of China, with her death marking the first resulting from an H3N8 infection.
The first known human fatality from the H3N8 bird flu was announced today in China by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The 56-year-old woman who died as a result of severe pneumonia, which was a symptom of her H3N8 infection was hospitalized on March 3 and declared deceased on March 16.
The woman lived in the Guangdong province in southeast China, in close proximity to poultry and wild birds. The WHO reported that “The patient had multiple underlying conditions. She had a history of exposure to live poultry before the onset of the disease and a history of wild bird presence around her home.”
The organization revealed that no close contacts of the diseased woman presented symptoms of the disease.
The WHO also stated that it could not detect the source of the disease, “It is still unclear what the exact source of this infection is and how this virus is related to other avian influenza A(H3N8) viruses that are circulating in animals,” and called for further investigation.
The virus has been in circulation since 2002 and originated from North American waterfowl birds. It has since been detected in horses, dogs, and seals.
The virus was first detected in humans in April and May last year.
One of the first two cases developed a critical illness, while the other presented mild symptoms. However, both of the patients recovered. WHO says that both infections came from direct or indirect contact with infected poultry.
“It appears that this virus 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,” the UN-based organization said
The WHO warned of the “constantly evolving nature of influenza viruses” and stressed the importance of “surveillance to detect virological, epidemiological and clinical changes associated with circulating influenza viruses which may affect human (or animal) health.”
An animal influenza infection such as H3N8 can cause conjunctivitis, or mild flu symptoms, to severe respiratory diseases.