WHO: China reports first human death from H3N8 bird flu

The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed three cases of H3N8 avian influenza in humans in the last year in China, among which the most recent was reported to this institution on March 27 and corresponded to a woman who died from this infection in the middle of the same month.
The victim suffered from underlying illnesses and it has been established that he had close contact with farmed birds before he developed symptoms of the disease and that wild birds were present around his home, indicating that he was most likely infected at a live bird market.
Epidemiological studies that have been conducted so far show that the H3N8 virus does not have the ability to be easily transmitted from person to person, so the WHO considers that “the risk of human-to-human spread at the national, regional or international level is low.” To prevent a mutation of the virus that could facilitate human-to-human transmission, it is recommended that all poultry workers be vaccinated against influenza.
Global vigilance needed
However, the known fact that this type of virus can change makes it very important that there is global surveillance to detect any virological, epidemiological or clinical modifications, he stressed. The first two human cases reported by China of this same disease were recorded in April and May 2022, and they recovered. In both cases it was determined that the contagion occurred by direct or indirect exposure to live edible birds.
After the three cases were detected, all contacts of the infected persons were traced and monitored health, but no additional cases were found among them. WHO recommended that to minimize the risk of infection, countries should raise public awareness of the importance of avoiding contact in risky environments such as farms or markets where live animals, edible birds or surfaces that may be contaminated with animal faeces are present.
The organization said it does not recommend any travel or trade restrictions based on the information it has so far. At the moment, one of the priorities is to understand the extent of the circulation of influenza viruses among animals and for all States and other actors to share the information they have quickly. “The variety of zoonotic influenza viruses that have caused human-to-human infections is of concern and requires surveillance in both the human and animal populations, as well as a thorough examination of each zoonotic infection and pandemic preparedness,” WHO said.

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Original source in Spanish

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