Russia has registered the first case of a strain of bird flu virus called A (H5N8) transmitted to humans from birds and has reported the matter to the World Health Organization (WHO), said Anna Popova, head of consumer health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor. Saturday.
Outbreaks of the H5N8 strain have been reported in Russia, Europe, China, the Middle East and North Africa in recent months, but only in poultry. Other strains – H5N1, H7N9 and H9N2 – have been known to spread to humans.
Russia reported the case of human infection to the WHO “several days ago, just as we became completely sure of our results,” Popova told Rossiya 24 state television. There were no signs of human-to-human transmission so far, she added.
The majority of bird flu infections in humans have been associated with direct contact with infected live or dead poultry, although properly cooked food is considered safe.
Bird flu outbreaks often cause poultry plants to kill their birds to prevent the virus from spreading and to prevent importing countries from imposing trade restrictions.
The vast majority of cases are spread by migratory wild birds, so producing countries tend to keep their poultry indoors or protected from contact with wildlife.
Seven workers at a poultry farm in southern Russia had been infected with the H5N8 strain when an outbreak occurred at the plant in December, Popova said, adding that the people involved were feeling well now.
“This situation did not develop further,” she added.
The Siberian Vector Institute said on Saturday that it would begin developing human tests and a vaccine against H5N8, the RIA news agency reported.
The WHO did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment.