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China reports first human infected with H3N8 strain of bird flu

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China’s health authority informed on Tuesday that the country has recorded the first human infection with the H3N8 strain of bird flu. It however said that the risk of it spreading among people was low.

A four-year-old boy from central Henan province was found to have been infected with the variant after developing a fever and other symptoms on April 5. The National Health Commission said in a statement that no close contacts were infected with the virus.

The child had come in contact with chickens and crows raised at his home.

The H3N8 variant has previously been detected elsewhere in the world in horses, dogs, birds and seals but no human cases of H3N8 have been reported, said the NHC.

According to an initial assessment by the Commission, the variant did not yet have the ability to effectively infect humans, and the risk of a large-scale epidemic was low. Many different strains of bird flu are present in China and some sporadically infect people, usually those working with poultry.

Last year China reported the first human case of H10N3. 

China has huge populations of both farmed and wild birds of many species, creating an ideal environment for avian viruses to mix and mutate. Growing surveillance of avian influenza in people also means more infections are being picked up.

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