(RxWiki News) Human cases of bird flu are no longer unheard of, but the latest case is especially catching the attention of global health officials — it's the first infection with a new strain.
Chinese authorities reported that the H10N8 strain of bird flu was confirmed in a Chinese woman.
The patient has since died, and health officials are urging the public to practice habits to protect themselves.
"Wash your hands with soap and water when possible."
The Hong Kong Government's Centre for Health Protection (CHP) reported December 17 that the H10N8 strain of bird flu was discovered in a fatal human infection.
The patient was a 73-year-old woman from the Jiangxi province in southeastern China. According to CHP, the woman had underlying illnesses and was considered "immunocompromised."
CHP reported that the patient was admitted to the hospital on November 30 and diagnosed with severe pneumonia. She passed away on December 6.
The woman had visited a local live poultry market, CHP said. However, much is still to be learned in this case.
According to CHP, close contacts of the patient are under medical surveillance, and none have displayed symptoms thus far.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has been tracking another strain of avian influenza — H7N9 — since it was first detected in human cases in China during March 2013. According to WHO, at least 139 infections and 45 deaths have been tied to this strain.
In a CHP news release, a spokesman for the center urged travelers to avoid visiting live bird markets and to avoid close contact with poultry and their droppings.
"If contact has been made, they should thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water. If fever or respiratory symptoms develop, they should immediately wear facial masks, seek medical attention and reveal their travel history to doctors," said CHP.
CHP recommended a variety of other steps to avoid bird flu, which could prove wise for both local residents and travelers to affected areas.
These steps included cooking poultry and eggs completely, covering the nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing and wearing a medical mask when caring for the ill.
"Wash hands frequently with soap, especially before touching the mouth, nose or eyes, handling food or eating; after going to the toilet or touching public installations or equipment such as escalator handrails, elevator control panels or door knobs; or when hands are dirtied by respiratory secretions after coughing or sneezing," recommended CHP.