China says it has identified the first case of H3N8 avian flu in humans, but health officials say the risk of human-to-human transmission is low.
Also read: Avian Flu: No risk to wallet … for now
The H3N8 breed infects horses, dogs and seals, but has not yet been found in humans.
A four-year-old boy living in central Henan province was tested positive for the H3N8 strain after being hospitalized in early April with fever and other symptoms, the Chinese Ministry of Health said on Tuesday.
The patient’s family raises chickens and lives in the area where the wild ducks live.
The health ministry said the boy had been directly infected by birds, and tests performed on people close to the patient showed “no abnormalities”.
Also, according to the ministry, the boy’s case “inter-ethnic transmission over time” and “the risk of large-scale transmission is low”.
However, he called for not contacting dead or sick birds and for contact with fever or respiratory symptoms.
Cases of bird flu transmission between humans are very rare.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), H5N1 and H7N9 strains were the leading cause of human cases of bird flu in 1997 and 2013, respectively.
According to an American study published in 2012, the H3N8 strain caused fatal pneumonia in more than 160 seals off the American coast in the previous year.