Published on: June 2, 2021



What is the news : A 41-year-old man in China’s eastern province of Jiangsu has been confirmed as the first human case of infection with a rare strain of bird flu known as H10N3

What do we know about H10N3?

  • Little is known about the virus, which appears to be rare in birds, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and does not cause severe disease.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) said while the source of the patient’s exposure to the H10N3 virus was not known and no other cases were found among the local population, there was no indication of human-to-human transmission yet.
  • Yet avian influenza viruses that have little impact on birds can be much more serious in people, such as the H7N9 strain that killed almost 300 people in China during the winter of 2016-2017. The WHO has said there had been only rare instances of person-to-person spread of the H7N9 virus.

What are the risks?

  • The risk of further infection with H10N3 is currently believed to be very low, with experts describing the case as “sporadic”.
  • Such cases occur occasionally in China which has huge populations of both farmed and wild birds of many species.
  • And with growing surveillance of avian influenza in the human population, more infections with bird flu viruses are being picked up.
  • In February, Russia reported the first human infection with the H5N8 virus that caused huge damage on poultry farms across Europe, Russia and East Asia last winter.
  • Seven people infected with the virus were asymptomatic, authorities said.
  • Experts will be on alert for any clusters of H10N3 cases, but for now, a single case is not much of a concern.
  • The strain is “not a very common virus,” and only around 160 isolates of the virus were reported in the 40 years to 2018, according to Filip Claes, regional laboratory coordinator of the FAO’s Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases at the regional office for Asia and the Pacific.
  • Still, flu viruses can mutate rapidly and mix with other strains circulating on farms or among migratory birds, known as “reassortment,” meaning they could make genetic changes that pose a transmission threat to humans.