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Bird Flu: Russia Reports World’s First Case of Human Transmission

H5N8 strain of the bird flu has proved to be highly contagious and lethal for birds.

Published
World
2 min read
H5N8 strain of the bird flu has proved to be highly contagious and lethal for birds. Image used for representation. 
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Russia informed on Saturday, 20 February that its scientists have detected the world's first case of human transmission of the H5N8 strain of avian influenza flu (bird flu) and notified the World Health Organisation, AFP reported.

Anna Popova, the head of Russia’s health executive body Rospotrebnadzor said on the television that Vektor laboratory’s scientists had isolated the strain's genetic material from seven workers at a poultry farm in southern Russia, where the avian flu outbreak was first recorded among birds in December.

Avian influenza is a disease caused by infection with avian (bird) influenza (flu) ‘Type A’ viruses. H5N1 and H7N9 are the most common strains of the virus.

Popova further added that the workers did not undergo any serious health impacts, and are believed to have caught the virus from the poultry at the farm.

"Information about the world's first case of transmission of the avian flu (H5N8) to humans has already been sent to the World Health Organisation," Popova said, AFP reported.

H5N8 strain of the flu has proved to be highly contagious and lethal for birds, but had never been detected in humans before Saturday.

Popova called this "the important scientific discovery" and added that only "time will tell" if the virus can mutate further.

She expressed, "The discovery of these mutations when the virus has not still acquired an ability to transmit from human to human gives us all, the entire world, time to prepare for possible mutations and react in an adequate and timely fashion,” AFP quoted.

A spokesperson of the WHO said that the organisation is in discussion with Russian national authorities and assessing the health impact of the flu.

"If confirmed, this would be the first time H5N8 infects people."

WHO highlighted that the people infected were "asymptomatic" and no further case of transmission among humans was reported.

(With inputs from AFP

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