Bird flu alert, first human case from new H10N3 strain in China. In Russia several outbreaks of H5N8

On 21 May the alter arrived from the Global Health Summit: the world is entering the era of pandemics and it is therefore necessary, after the one triggered by Sar Cov 2, to prepare. And therefore it is not surprising the new alert for avian flu cases in the world: after various reports in the last year in Russia of the highly pathogenic H5N8 strain, from China comes the news of a first human case from a new strain theH10N3. Dangerous viruses, the ones they harbor in wild birds but also breeding, and which according to experts may represent a new potential pandemic threat. For this, they must be closely monitored. The importance of being prepared and equipped is the primary concern of virologists as the professor explained to the Massimo Clementi of the San Raffaele in Milan.

The Chinese case concerns a 41-year-old man hospitalized with flu symptoms in hospital on April 28. The National Health Commission (Nhc) of Beijing, however, specified that “iThe risk of a large-scale spread is extremely low“. The infected resides in the eastern city of Zhenjiang. The circumstances of the infection are not explained but it is added that the man is under observation but could be discharged soon. The latest avian influenza outbreak, caused by the H7N9 strain, occurred between 2016 and 2017. In total, since 2013, the H7N9 strain has infected 1,668 people, killing 616 of them, according to FAO data. And the cases of avian flu that have occurred in Russia are also monitored with caution: “No alarm, but growing attention is needed”, warned the Italian Society of Infectious and Tropical Diseases (Simit). In fact, several outbreaks of avian influenza have been recorded in Russia since autumn 2020 and on 21 February Russia announced that it had identified the first case of transmission to humans of the highly pathogenic H5N8 strain. A recent article in the journal Science also draws attention to the pandemic potential of these avian viruses. This virus “pthey may represent a new potential pandemic threat and they must therefore be closely monitored, even if at the moment human-to-human transmission, capable of triggering a pandemic, has occurred only in rare cases ”, underlines Massimo Andreoni, past president of Simit, to Ansa.

Avian influenza, he explains, “has always been considered the one at greatest risk of developing a pandemic and avian viruses are among the most feared. THEn these years various strains, such as H5N1 and H7N9, have circulated forming epidemic outbreaks in which, however, the transmission was essentially that from animal to man “. In most cases there has not been the passage of transmission from human to human, which is then the one capable of triggering a pandemic. In fact, as long as the disease is limited to the passage from the wild or even domestic bird to humans, the expert notes, “the situation is controllable, although it should be emphasized that the death rate among humans for these viral infections has also reached the 50%, therefore at a very high level “. However, “if the transition remains from animal to man – he clarifies – this limits the further spread of the epidemic”.

The problem does not only concern China, but also other countries such as India, Egypt. On February 21, Moscow announced that it had identified the first case of transmission to humans of the highly pathogenic H5N8 strain of avian influenza. From that moment on, close monitoring began, also followed in Italy by the Italian Society of Infectious and Tropical Diseases. “Other cases of asymptomatic human infection have been recorded in Russia, with no apparent secondary human to human transmission – he explains Francesco Castelli, Professor of Infectious Diseases at the University of Brescia and member of Simit -. A recent Science article by W. Shi and GF Gao brings to the attention the pandemic potential of these avian viruses, where possible mutations (antigenic drift or shift) can make such avian viruses more suitable for human infection. It is therefore fully justified and necessary to carry out epidemiological surveillance plans that have been carried out for years on avifauna and in poultry reared for zootechnical purposes “.

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