The First Cases Of H5N8 Bird Flu In Humans Have Been Detected
The first cases of H5N8 bird flu in humans have been detected.
Authorities in Russia have informed the World Health Organisation that seven cases were detected in workers at a poultry farm in the south of the country last December.
The report also went on to say that the workers contracted the virus following an outbreak at the farm last year, though they did not suffer any adverse effects and have all made a full recovery.
Anna Popova, head of Russia's health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, said: "Today, I want to inform you about an important scientific discovery made by scientists at the Vector Scientific Center.
"The first cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H5N8) has been laboratory confirmed.
"This situation did not develop further."
And there is reportedly no evidence of human to human transmission.
However, Ms Popova added: "But only time will tell how soon future mutations will allow it to overcome this barrier."
She went on to say that this outbreak "gives us all, the whole world, time to prepare for possible mutations and the possibility to react in a timely way and develop test systems and vaccines".
As a result, RIA news agency reported, Siberia's Vector Institute said today (20 February) that it would start developing human tests and a vaccine against H5N8.
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A previous variant of bird flu, H5N1, has also been known to affect humans, though again it was due to close contact with livestock rather than person to person.
Last year, a number of bird flu incidents were reported at locations across the UK, with livestock having to be culled as a result.
Speaking at the time, Professor Ian Brown, Acting Deputy Director of Science at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), said it was an incredibly difficult time.
He said: "We are faced with unprecedented events even in the context of avian influenza.
"Over 230 wild birds tested positive for H5 HPAI (and rising daily), a total 10 disease confirmations in both poultry and captive birds and three different virus serotypes of HPAI, H5N8, H5N5 and H5N1 involved in wild bird cases across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
"The first occasion the UK has been challenged with this complexity and number of events over a 2 month period and all in the early part of the winter!"
An outbreak was detected in a poultry flock in north Dorset, with tests on a "small number" of dead chickens revealing they had contracted the H5N8 strain.
At the time, Trading Standards officer, Neil Martin, said: "Due to the increase in cases of Avian Influenza (bird flu) found in both wild birds and commercial poultry flocks, additional rules were brought in to prevent further spread of the disease.
"The risk to human health at this time has been confirmed as low and it is safe to eat poultry products."
Featured Image Credit: PA
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