A new human strain of bird flu virus, H10N8, has claimed its first victim in China.
It has been reported that the 73 year old woman from Nanchang City had visited a live poultry market before her death, although it is yet to be confirmed whether this was the source of infection. A second person has since been reported with the virus.
Dr Mingbin Liu from Nanchang City Centre for Disease Control and Prevention said: “A second case of H10N8 was identified in Jiangxi province, China, on 26 January 2014. This is of great concern because it reveals that the H10N8 virus has continued to circulate and may cause more human infections in future.”
In recent months, China has already been coping with an outbreak of a similar influenza virus H7N9, which has killed around a quarter of those infected.
A study in The Lancet found the new strain had genetic similarities to two other types of avian flu—H5N1 and H7N9—that jumped from birds to people and have led to deaths in humans. Its authors also said H10N8 hasn’t produced major reported outbreaks of disease in poultry, meaning it could quietly spread in flocks.
The findings showed that the disease hadn’t been transmitted from person to person, which would make it more dangerous. Still, they warned that the new strain warranted caution. “The pandemic potential of this novel virus should not be underestimated,” the authors wrote.