Meanwhile, the May 28 finding has prompted the CCDC to go off on a not-just-wild goose chase. It was a chicken chase. And a poultry in general chase. And a human chase. They wanted to figure out where and how the man may have been infected with the H10N3 avian influenza virus. More importantly, the CCDC wanted to make sure that the man did not pick up the virus from or spread the virus to another human being.
An avian strain of the flu jumping from birds to humans for the first time does, of course, raise some concerns. In birds, the H10N3 avian influenza virus typically causes no more than mild disease. However, in humans, it can be quite a different story. When it comes to the H10N3 bird flu, the man’s immune system was in effect a 41-year-old virgin. In fact, practically all human immune systems are virgins. Your immune system has never really seen this particular strain of virus. Therefore, it can behave like a virgin, touched by the virus for the very first time, not knowing what to do, and subsequently firing off in random directions. This can result in a lot worse disease and greater chances of death.
Even more concerning, though, would be human-to-human transmission of the H10N3 avian influenza virus. It’s one thing if a single human (not a human without a significant other that is but one human) gets infected with a new virus. It’s something completely different if humans can then spread this new virus to each other. When human-to-human transmission can occur in a sustained manner, that’s when you really have to worry about a serious outbreak, a possible epidemic, and maybe even a pandemic. That’s essentially what happened with something you may have heard of over the past year: the Covid-19 coronavirus.
So far, a search of the man’s personal contacts and surrounding neighborhoods has not found any other human cases, which is good news. At this point, there is no evidence of human-to-human transmission. So the chances of the H10N3 avian influenza virus spreading far and wide right now seem very low. The man most likely caught the virus from a bird.
Therefore, health officials in China are warning people to avoid direct contact with live poultry, such as chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese. So rather than snuggling with chickens while watching your favorite rom-com, it’s better to text them the best lines instead. Oh and cancel the duck rave. Stop sharing chalices with geese. And be extra careful if poultry seem sick, such as asking for a tissue or saying “dude, I’m sick,” or dead.
Even though some people on social media are saying things like “here we go again,” there’s no need to panic right now about the H10N3 avian flu virus. No need to start hoarding toilet paper as if it were dogecoin or something like that. Again, without the ability to go from human to human, this virus can’t readily cause an outbreak among humans.
Nevertheless, it is important for public health officials to be on lookout for any such respiratory virus that jumps from animals to humans for the first time and follow them closely. After all, chicken and animals aren’t like Las Vegas. What happens in them doesn’t necessarily always stay in them. With relatively high mutation rates, flu viruses and coronaviruses that normally circulate among other animals could acquire the ability to circulate among humans.