The first known human case of the H3N8 strain of avian flu was confirmed by the health authorities of China, but they said that there is a low risk of widespread transmission among the population.
The H3N8 virus has been circulating since it first emerged in 2002 in North American waterfowl and has been known to infect horses, dogs and other animals.
However, prior to recent times, it has not been previously detected in humans.
The National Health Commission of China said on Tuesday that a 4-year-old boy who lives in the central Henan province had tested positive for the strain, following his hospitalization earlier this month for fever and other symptoms.
The boy lived in an area that is populated with wild ducks and his family raises chickens for a living.
Tests of the boy’s close human contacts have so far found no abnormalities, with the NHC saying that his case was a one-off cross-species transmission, with the risk of large-scale transmission being low.
They also warned the public to stay away from birds that are sick or dead, and if they have a fever or respiratory symptoms they should seek immediate treatment.
The cases of transmission between humans are described as being extremely rare, with avian influenza occurring mainly in wild birds and poultry.