At a time when the world is recovering from the Coronavirus pandemic, another health emergency seems to be knocking on the doors as Russia on Saturday said that country’s scientists have now detected the first case of transmission of the H5N8 strain of avian flu to humans. The highly contagious H5N8 strain is lethal for birds, however, it was never reported to have spread to humans.
Seven workers at a poultry plant in the south of the country were infected with the virus following an outbreak among the birds there in December. All seven of them are now out of danger, said Anna Popova, the head of Russia’s health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor. She also confirmed that there was no sign of human to human transmission of the virus yet. The Russian scientists had isolated the genetic material of the strain from the infected seven workers.
Popova also noted that important scientific discovery will further tell if the virus can further mutate. “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,” Popova said.
According to the reports, the Russian scientists have now alerted about the looming threat of Avian Flu’s human transmission to the World Health Organization. “Information about the world’s first case of transmission of the avian flu (H5N8) to humans has already been sent to the World Health Organization,” said Anna Popova.
Recently, the Avian Flu outbreaks of the H5N8 strain was reported from Russia, Europe, China, the Middle East and North Africa. Other strains – H5N1, H7N9 and H9N2 – have been known to spread to human. However, it is the first time that H5N8 is mutated to infect humans.
The Vector Institute in Siberia said on Saturday that it would start developing human tests and a vaccine against H5N8.