China scientists cite second case of H10N8 to warn about bird flu’s pandemic potential

CHINA – Chinese scientists sounded the alarm on Wednesday after a new bird flu virus, H10N8, killed anelderly woman in December and infected another individual last month. The fifth novel influenza strain to emerge in 17 years, the virus has a worrying genetic profile and should be closely monitored, they reported in The Lancet medical journal. It appears to be able to infect tissue deep in the lung and may have features allowing it to spread fficiently among humans, they said. “The pandemic potential of this novel virus should not be underestimated,” said the  team headed by Shu Yuelong from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Beijing. The warning stems from analysis of a virus sample taken from a 73-year-old woman who died in Nanchang, in southeastern Jiangxi province, on December 6 after being diagnosed with severe pneumonia and respiratory failure. Although the cases are few, the fact it has jumped from birds to humans is an important warning, the researchers said. “We should always be worried when viruses cross the species barrier from birds or animals to humans, as it is very unlikely that we will have prior immunity to protect us,” said Jeremy Farrar, director of Wellcome Trust and an expert on flu. “We should be especially worried when those viruses show characteristics that suggest they have the capacity to replicate easily or to be virulent or resistant to drugs. This virus ticks several of these boxes and therefore is a cause for concern.” The Chinese authorities announced her death from H10N8 on December 18. More

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