China has detected another human case of influenza A H3N8 in a 56-year-old woman. This is reportedly the third such case, after China reported two H3N8 cases in 2022 involving a four-year-old boy from Zhumadian City in Henan province and a five-year-old boy from Changsha city in Hunan province.
According to the Chinese Provincial CDC website, the woman from Zhongshan city in Guangdong province, had multiple myeloma and other basic medical history. She also had a history of exposure to live poultry before the onset of the disease, and a history of wild bird activities around her home. The Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention checked and tested the case specimens, and the result was positive for H3N8 avian influenza virus nucleic acid.
“Our centre has guided Zhongshan city to carry out epidemiological investigations, close contact tracking management, investigation of epidemic-related places, on-site elimination and other epidemic disposal work in accordance with relevant plans. No abnormalities have been found in close contacts so far,” the Provincial CDC said in a statement. Experts believe that the new case is sporadic, and the risk of virus transmission is low at this stage. They also suggest that the public should try to avoid direct contact with live poultry and dead poultry in daily life; take personal protection, pay attention to food hygiene, separate raw and cooked meat, and cook meat thoroughly before eating.
They advised that people with respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, throat should wear a mask and seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
As per Avian Flu Diary (AFD), an infectious disease news blog, H3N8 was not considered much of a zoonotic threat as it doesn’t tend to seriously impact poultry.
“However, H3N8 remains a plausible cause of a global influenza pandemic that spread out of Russia in 1889-1900 (some researchers now suspect a coronavirus instead),” it said.
Previous research has shown that H3N8 has been circulating in horses, greyhounds, marine mammals like harbour seals and pigs.
Avian A(H3N8) influenza viruses are commonly detected globally in animals and represent one of the most frequently found subtypes in wild birds, causing minimal to no sign of disease in domestic poultry or wild birds, according to the World Health Organization.
The global health body states that zoonotic influenza type A infections may cause diseases ranging from mild upper respiratory infection (fever and cough) to rapid progression to severe pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, shock, and even death.