Woman dies of H3N8 flu in China, a known world first

It is a world first. A woman has died in China of the H3N8 avian flu, a virus that has been circulating since 2002 and which has so far had no known human victims, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.

The virus, which first appeared on the North American continent, was until now considered capable of being transmitted to horses, dogs and sea lions. It had not been detected in humans until the first two non-fatal cases in China in April and May 2022.

A patient with “multiple predispositions”

The deceased is a 56-year-old resident of Guangdong Province in southeast China. She fell ill on February 22, was hospitalized with severe pneumonia on March 3 and died on March 16, according to the WHO.

“The patient had multiple predispositions. She had a history of exposure to live poultry prior to illness onset, and a history of wild birds around her home,” the organization said. “None of the close contacts of this case had developed an infection or symptoms of illness at the time of writing this report.”

Visiting a live bird market could have caused this contamination, but “the exact source of this infection remains to be determined, as well as the link between this virus and the other type A (H3N8) avian influenzas circulating in the environment. animal”, explained the WHO, calling for research on the question.

The organization, however, stressed that the available data showed that this virus was not transmitted between humans and that, therefore, “the risk of its spread at the national, regional and global level is considered to be low”. However, she recalled the need for constant monitoring due to the permanent mutations of the viruses.

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