Recently, 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.
- 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 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.
- As long as avian influenza viruses circulate in poultry, sporadic infection of avian influenza in humans is not surprising, which is a vivid reminder that the threat of an influenza pandemic is persistent.
- The strain is “not a very common virus,” and only around 160 isolates of the virus were reported in the 40 years to 2018.
- 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.
Science and Technology Current Affairs for UPSC : Click Here