A new study published in The Lancet medical journal on Wednesday revealed a new strain of avian influenza, H10N8, infected two people in China.
The researchers said the potential for a new pandemic of avian influenza is real and "should not be underestimated."
Researchers said the newly discovered strain appears to adapt to infect humans more easily, but there is no evidence that the virus can pass from human to human.
Researchers said people living in the U.K. have an extremely low risk of contracting the virus, however, Chinese authorities will closely monitor the strain to assess the potential for a new pandemic.
The strain was discovered when a 73-year-old-woman was hospitalized in China with a fever and severe pneumonia. The woman had been exposed to live chickens a few days before experiencing symptoms. She died nine days after the onset of symptoms, despite antibiotic and antiviral treatment.
Researchers also discovered a gene mutation in the strain that is believed to be associated with the strain's ability to easily infect people.
The exact source of the patient's infection is unknown, because the H10N8 virus has not been found in samples collected from the poultry site she visited.
The study was funded by the Emergency Research Project, the National Basic Research Program of China and the National Mega-projects for Infectious Diseases.