• The 41-year-old patient developed fever symptoms on April 28
  • He was diagnosed with H10N3 a month after being admitted to the hospital
  • NHC officials have conducted investigations of people with close contract to the patient

The Chinese government on Tuesday announced the first known human infection with the H10N3 strain of bird flu.

In a statement released by China’s National Health Commission (NHC), authorities revealed that a 41-year-old man from the city of Zhenjiang, Jiangsu, was hospitalized on April 28 after developing fever symptoms. He was later diagnosed with H10N3 on May 28.

The patient is now stable and is expected to be discharged from the hospital soon. The agency did not indicate how the Zhenjiang resident was infected.

NHC officials have conducted investigations of people who have had close contact with the patient and found no other case. He is currently the first known infection of the H10N3 strain of bird flu.

The health agency also emphasized that H10N3, which is not a common virus, is low pathogenic, which means it is unlikely to cause a significant outbreak in poultry. There is also no indication it can spread easily in humans.

“Experts think the analysis of the virus’ complete genome showed the H10N3 strain had an animal origin and had not adapted to infecting humans effectively yet,” the NHC statement read.

“This infection is an accidental animal-to-human cross-species transmission. The risk of a large-scale transmission is very low.”

There have only been 160 cases of the virus reported in the last 40 years to 2018. These cases were mostly found in wild birds or waterfowl found in Asia and some parts of North America. The virus has yet to be detected in chickens, according to Filip Claes, regional laboratory coordinator of the Food and Agriculture Organization's Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases for Asia and the Pacific.

From October 2016 to September 2017, the World Health Organization reported more than 760 human infections of the H7N9 strain of bird flu during its fifth epidemic, making it the largest H7N9 epidemic to date. In total, the health agency reported 1,565 cases of human infection with H7N6 since 2013, with 39% of people diagnosed with the virus dead.

Varieties of bird flu are common in China, where authorities have increased surveillance of the viruses. But unlike the H7N9 strain, there is no evidence that H10N3 can spread among humans.

China Bird Flu
A worker sprays chemicals to disinfect the ground in front of policemen standing guard outside a poultry farm which has been sealed off after an outbreak of bird flu, in Baoding, Hebei province, China, Dec. 22, 2013. Reuters/Stringer