Health authorities in Russia yesterday reported that the country recorded the first case of a strain of bird flu virus being passed to humans from birds,
Rospotrebnadzor, the federal agency responsible for consumer protection and human well-being, announced that it had reported the strain, named AH5N8, to the World Health Organization (WHO) “several days ago” after officials became “absolutely certain” of the results.
Russia’s public health chief Anna Popova said there was no sign of transmission from human to human so far.
She said the discovery of AH5N8 now “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.
Its reported that the outbreaks of the H5N8 bird flu strain have been registered 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 discovered to infect humans.
Germany and other European countries saw their last major avian influenza break out in the winter of 2016/17. Germany culled hundreds of thousands of animals on poultry farms as part of efforts to contain the outbreak.
The WHO has warned that though human transmission of A(H5) viruses is “rare” and generally occurs in people exposed to sick or dead infected birds or their environments, it can “lead to severe illness or death in humans.”
In a 2016 statement, the WHO said six of 14 cases of H5N6 avian flu in humans reported since 2014 were fatal.