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Source: Centers for Disease Control & Infection news release

The National Health Commission of the People's Republic of China reported a confirmed case of human infection with avian influenza A(H3N8) virus "H3N8 bird flu" on March 27, 2023. The patient was an adult with multiple underlying medical conditions from Guangdong Province who became ill on February 22, 2023, was hospitalized with severe pneumonia on March 3, 2023 and later died on March 16, 2023 [1, 2].

This is the third human infection with H3N8 bird flu virus and first fatality ever reported. The previous two human infections with H3N8 virus were also reported in China, during 2022.

3N8 viruses are a different influenza A virus subtype and unrelated to H5N1 viruses currently spreading among wild birds and poultry in the United States and globally. Based on what is currently known, this human case of H3N8 virus infection is not thought to pose a risk to the health of the U.S. public at this time.

To read the entire report click here.

Prominent animal health industry consultant Bob Jones comments:

I decided to learn more about the 1918 Spanish flu and just finished reading The Great Influenza by John Barry, which tells a thoroughly engaging story about the virus and the time that it infected the world. I wanted to specifically understand more about the influenza virus and how society responded to this pandemic - and maybe learn something about pandemics caused by coronaviruses.

But after the news this week, I am back thinking about how we as an industry should respond to influenza in animals, specifically poultry. The first death of a Chinese person infected by an avian H3N8 influenza A virus should make pause.

Until recently, I underappreciated the fact that influenza viruses are endemic in six animal species or groups (wild waterfowl, domestic poultry, swine, horses, dogs and bats) and that the human influenza pandemics were caused by viruses that jumped from primarily birds and swine to humans.

The most common response to avian influenza outbreaks is to contain the spread of virus by killing the birds, and because of the rampant highly pathogenic avian influenza virus, there are now about 60 million fewer poultry in the US. So, it's good news to hear that Ceva and Boehringer Ingelheim are helping France battle his and that companies like Zoetis are bringing new technology to the influenza war. As an industry, we need new and better ways to fight zoonotic diseases, not another generic product.

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