The H5N8 Virus: A New Emerging Influenza


avatar Sim Sai Tin 1 , * , avatar Viroj Wiwanitkit 2

Medical Center Unit, Shantou Medical Center, Shantou, China
Tropical Medicine Unit, Hainan Medical University, Haikou, China

how to cite: Sai Tin S, Wiwanitkit V. The H5N8 Virus: A New Emerging Influenza. Thrita. 2016;5(1):e31145. doi: 10.5812/thrita.31145.

Dear Editor,

Infection is an important problem in clinical medicine, and there are multiple infections that may occur in the present day. In medicine, there have been many new emerging bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections reported from several areas of the world. Of these new diseases, emerging influenza is a present public health threat that can be seen globally. As a respiratory infection, emerging influenza is expected to be a serious disease that can have a worldwide impact. Within the past decade, several new influenza infections have emerged (H5N1, swine flu, etc.); some cross species to infect human beings. In relation to Iran, the recent swine flu (H1N1) became a great concern throughout the Middle East (1). Thus, it is necessary to have a monitoring system to deal with new emerging influenzas.

Here, the authors discuss the emerging H5N8 influenza virus. This is a virus that has only been mentioned in medicine for two years. In 2014, there was a report on this virus from eastern China, where it was successfully isolated from domestic ducks (2). Thus, the new H5N8 influenza can be classified into the avian influenza group According to Fan et al. this infection causes respiratory problems among birds; the researchers concluded that “wild birds could acquire the H5N8 virus from breeding ducks and spread the virus via migratory bird flyways” (3). This is similar to the new avian influenza viruses that have previously emerged.

Birds and poultry have been focused on as the animals that harbor the H5N8 virus; moreover, there is concern over the possibility that the birds and poultry could bring the disease to human beings as a cross-species infection. Wu et al. noted that this virus “may pose health risks for humans” (2). Furthermore, Adlhoch et al. claimed that the “risk of zoonotic transmission and prevention of human cases” are very important (4). From its origin in China, the virus has already been seen in Europe (4) and United States (5). The infection has been spread over a wide area around the world, and many birds are already infected; hence, human infection can be expected in the near future, as in the previous case of H5N1 bird flu.

There are some reports on the topic of the possibility of cross species-infection. According to the report by Kim et al. the virus “exhibited detectable human virus-like receptor binding and replicated in human respiratory tract tissues” (6). Indeed, the possibility of cross species infection of H5N8 influenza has been widely discussed in many publications (6, 7), and this represents an important topic for further study in respiratory medicine. Further researches on the infectivity and pathogenesis of the new H5N8 influenza virus in animal models that can further refer to the situation in human beings are recommended.


  • 1.

    Bijani B, Pahlevan AA, Qasemi-Barqi R, Sarokhani MR. Swine-Origin Influenza A (H1N1) and Seasonal Influenza in Qazvin Province, Iran: Comparison of Epidemiological Features, Clinical Manifestations and Outcome of the 2009 Pandemic. Biotech Health Sci. 2015; 2 (2)[DOI]

  • 2.

    Wu H, Peng X, Xu L, Jin C, Cheng L, Lu X, et al. Novel reassortant influenza A(H5N8) viruses in domestic ducks, eastern China. Emerg Infect Dis. 2014; 20 (8) : 1315 -8 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 3.

    Fan S, Zhou L, Wu D, Gao X, Pei E, Wang T, et al. A novel highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza virus isolated from a wild duck in China. Influenza Other Respir Viruses. 2014; 8 (6) : 646 -53 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 4.

    Adlhoch C, Gossner C, Koch G, Brown I, Bouwstra R, Verdonck F, et al. Comparing introduction to Europe of highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses A(H5N8) in 2014 and A(H5N1) in 2005. Euro Surveill. 2014; 19 (50) : 20996 [PubMed]

  • 5.

    Jhung MA, Nelson DI, Centers for Disease C. Outbreaks of avian influenza A (H5N2), (H5N8), and (H5N1) among birds--United States, December 2014-January 2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2015; 64 (4) : 111 [PubMed]

  • 6.

    Kim YI, Pascua PN, Kwon HI, Lim GJ, Kim EH, Yoon SW, et al. Pathobiological features of a novel, highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H5N8) virus. Emerg Microbes Infect. 2014; 3 (10)[DOI][PubMed]

  • 7.

    Kim HM, Kim CK, Lee NJ, Chu H, Kang C, Kim K, et al. Pathogenesis of novel reassortant avian influenza virus A (H5N8) Isolates in the ferret. Virology. 2015; 481 : 136 -41 [DOI][PubMed]

Copyright © 2016, Thrita. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License ( which permits copy and redistribute the material just in noncommercial usages, provided the original work is properly cited.