A woman in eastern China was confirmed to have been carrying a new strain of the bird flu, after she died of respiratory failure earlier this month, Chinese health officials announced Wednesday.
The 73-year-old woman, who was living in the Jiangxi Province and died on Dec. 6, was confirmed to have been carrying the H10N8 strain of the bird flu, which had previously not been known to infect humans.
Although Chinese government officials have not confirmed that the death was connected to the virus, the World Health Organization told Reuters that was the case. According to a government statement, the woman was diagnosed with severe pneumonia, high blood pressure, a neuromuscular disorder, and had suffered a heart attack.
Although family members who had been in contact with her have not yet shown symptoms, the woman had visited a live bird market four days before becoming ill. China has had a history of dealing with strains of the bird flu. Another strain of the virus, H7N9, was first reported in China in March 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
By the end of October, WHO reported there had been 137 laboratory-confirmed human cases of H7N9 in China, including 45 deaths, but that there had been no sustainable evidence of transmission between humans.
A WHO report from early October also stated that the country would be on enhanced surveillance of the virus and that more cases could be expected.
“Owing in part to the emergence of avian influenza A(H7N9) virus and infections of humans with this virus in China, there is enhanced surveillance for various subtypes of avian influenza in both humans and animals in China, the countries neighboring China, and globally,” the report says. “It is therefore expected that more influenza … events in humans and animals will be detected and reported, as well as identification and reporting of infections with a variety of other influenza subtypes and reassortant viruses.”