The Washington Post

One dead from new avian flu strain in China; older strain has infected more than 300 people

A worker disinfects cages at a closed poultry store in Hangzhou in east China's Zhejiang province on Jan. 24. (AP/AP)

Scientists say a new strain of avian flu has killed a woman in China and infected at least one other person.

In a study published Wednesday in the Lancet medical journal, Chinese researchers detailed the recent spread of the H10N8 virus, saying “the pandemic potential of this novel virus should not be underestimated.”

China has struggled over the past year to deal with a previously detected avian flu strain called H7N9, which has killed about a quarter of those infected and led to large-scale culling of poultry markets and a drop in poultry sales.

The Lancet study covers the first reported case of human infection by H10N8. In the report, Chinese scientists detailed the case of a 73-year-old woman in Nanchang who was admitted to a hospital Nov. 30. Within nine days of the onset of illness, the woman suffered multiple organ failure and died. Investigators determined afterward that the woman had visited a live poultry market four days earlier, but they couldn’t find the H10N8 strain at the market.

Researchers also reported that a second woman in Nanchang, who is 55 years old, was infected and is still being treated.

For years, various strains of avian flu have worried scientists because of the potential for the disease to be transmitted from human to human. While the two cases in Nanchang were the first proof that H10N8 could be carried by humans, there is no evidence thus far that the strain is being transmitted from human to human.

“More surveillance will be needed to establish the origin of H10N8 and to monitor potential future transmission events,” the Lancet study said.

According to the report, the new H10N8 strain is genetically similar to two other strains of avian flu, H7N9 and H5N1. After a temporary slowdown in the middle of 2013, the H7N9 strain has had a resurgence in recent months.

Ten new cases of H7N9 infections were reported this week in China, pushing the total number of H7N9 infections to more than 300 since the outbreak began last year, according to an unofficial tally kept by the Center for Infection Disease Research and Policy. There have been 67 deaths.

William Wan is the Post's roving national correspondent, based in Washington, D.C. He previously served as the paper’s religion reporter and diplomatic correspondent and for three years as the Post’s China correspondent in Beijing.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments

Sign up for email updates from the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

You have signed up for the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

Thank you for signing up
You'll receive e-mail when new stories are published in this series.
Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.