Avian influenza A (H10N8)

Update as of 30 January 2014

Key facts

  • On 29 January, 2014, WHO has been notified by the Chinese authorities of the detection of avian influenza A (H10N8) from a case of severe pneumonia in a 55-year-old female in Jiangxi Province. She is currently in stable condition. She visited a local live poultry market on 4 January 2014 and had no exposure to similar cases before onset of symptoms. Family members and other contacts have no symptoms.
  • On 17 December, 2013, WHO has been officially notified by the Chinese health authorities that avian influenza A (H10N8) has been detected in a single patient with severe pneumonia. The patient is a 73-year old female from Jiangxi Province, China. She was hospitalized on November 30 and died on December 6. The patient visited a live bird market four days before date of onset. She had many underlying medical conditions (immunocompromised). The family members and other contacts had no symptoms and no other similar cases were detected in the area.
  • The fact that the virus was isolated from a patient and reported through active surveillance by the Chinese health authorities is a sign that the surveillance system is working well.
  • The specific source of the infection is unknown. As wild birds/poultry have been known to carry this virus, further sporadic cases may be detected.
  • While the investigation is ongoing, including contact tracing and enhanced surveillance, so far, there is no evidence of sick contacts or human-to-human transmission.
  • WHO is in contact with the national authorities and is following closely the event and will communicate important updates as they become available.

What we know

  • Although China has previously detected H10N8 in wild and domestic birds, this is the first ever report of H10N8 isolated from a patient. Given the potentially unpredictable behaviour of influenza viruses, vigilance and close monitoring is needed.
  • Outside of China, based on available literature, the virus had been detected in birds since 1965 in at least six countries (Italy, USA, Canada, South Korea, Sweden and Japan).
  • Human infections with influenza H10N7 subtype viruses have been previously reported from Egypt and Australia. All these patients presented with mild clinical signs and recovered.
  • The Chinese government is actively investigating this event and has heightened disease surveillance for early detection, prevention and control measures.
  • Given the increase in ILI and SARI surveillance, testing, and subtyping of influenza A positive specimens, especially in China, it is not unexpected to start to detect human infections with a variety of non-seasonal influenza subtypes.

WHO action

  • WHO is closely monitoring the situation and facilitating information sharing with Member States through the International Health Regulations.
  • WHO is collaborating with animal health colleagues to identify a possible animal source of the virus and assess the health risks.
  • WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event, nor does it recommend that any travel or trade restrictions be applied.

WHO’s public health advice

  • Avoid contact with sick or dead poultry. Keep children away from poultry.
  • Avoid touching any surfaces that may have been contaminated with poultry feces or blood.
  • Do not eat raw or undercooked poultry. Cook poultry to internal temperature of 70°C (until meat is not pink in the centre) and do not touch cooked meat with raw meat.
  • Clean cooking implements that have been in contact with raw meat before re-using.
  • Wash hands regularly, especially after handling poultry, while cooking and before eating.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
  • WHO does not recommend any specific measures be applied to travellers at this time.
  • Poultry, poultry products (eggs) and pork can be safely consumed provided they are properly cooked and properly handled during food preparation.

For more information, please contact

Helen Yu
Communications Officer, WHO in China
Office Tel: +86 10 65327191 ext 81275
Mobile: 13911205167
Email: yuji@wpro.who.int