A woman in China has died from the H3N8 bird flu, a virus that has been circulating since 2002 but has not caused any human fatalities until now. The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed the death earlier this week. Here is what we know so far.
The H3N8 virus first appeared in North America and was previously considered susceptible to transmission to horses, dogs, and sea lions. It was detected in humans in China on two occasions in April and May 2022, but without being fatal.
Death of a 56-Year-Old Woman
The woman who died was 56 years old and lived in the Chinese province of Guangdong. She fell ill with severe pneumonia on February 22 and was hospitalized on March 3. She died on March 16. “The patient had multiple underlying conditions” and “a history of exposure to live poultry prior to illness onset and a history of the presence of wild birds around his home,” the organization said in a statement.
No Close Contacts Infected
None of the woman’s close contacts developed an infection or symptoms of the disease at the time of writing this report, the United Nations agency added. The WHO said that the contagion could be due to frequenting a poultry market, but the exact source of infection is yet to be determined.
Low Risk of Spread
The WHO stressed that the available data show that the virus is not transmitted between humans and, therefore, “the risk of its spread on a national, regional and global scale is considered low”. Despite this, the organization emphasized the need to monitor the virus due to its continuous mutations.
In conclusion, while the death of a woman from the H3N8 virus in China is concerning, the risk of it spreading on a global scale is currently considered low. However, it is essential to remain vigilant and continue monitoring the virus’s mutations to prevent any potential outbreaks in the future.