The H7N9 flu virus isn’t exactly cuddly, but it is familiar; the virus has been floating around the country for the better part of a year, and scientists are developing a decent idea of how the little monster works. Enter H10N8, a poorly-understood virus with amped-up pandemic potential. Great.
We covered H10N8’s first victim in December, but the disease was only briefly in the headlines before regular ole’ H7N9 panic brought everyone back to normal. Now, The Lancet has had a chance to publish on the virus and, as SCMP reports, it doesn’t look good:
It [H10N8] appears to be able to infect tissue deep in the lung and may have features allowing it to spread efficiently among humans […]
Although the cases are few, the fact it has jumped from birds to humans is an important warning, the researchers said.
“We should always be worried when viruses cross the species barrier from birds or animals to humans, as it is very unlikely that we will have prior immunity to protect us,” said Jeremy Farrar, director of Wellcome Trust and an expert on flu.
“We should be especially worried when those viruses show characteristics that suggest they have the capacity to replicate easily or to be virulent or resistant to drugs. This virus ticks several of these boxes and therefore is a cause for concern.” […]
Ben Neuman, a virologist at Britain’s University of Reading said while the fatal H10N8 case needed to be watched closely, “there is no cause for alarm at this time”.
In other words, we “should always be worried” and have “a cause for concern,” but also don’t panic and there’s “no cause for alarm.” Face mask on, flu-basement locked. Check.