MOSCOW (Reuters) — Russia reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) the first case of bird flu virus strain named A(H5N8), Anna Popova, the chief of consumer watch dog Rospotrebnadzor, said on Saturday.
In Russia, Europe, China, the Middle East, and North Africa, H5N8 strain outbreaks have been recorded in recent months, but so far only in poultry. Other strains – H5N1, H7N9, and H9N2 – believed to spread to people are https://www.who.int/en/newsroom/fact-sheets/detail/influenza-(ava-and-other-zoonotic).
“Several days ago, just as we became absolutely certain of our results,” Popova said on State TV Rossiya 24. She added that there was still no evidence of transmission between humans.
Popova added that seven poultry employees in Russia’s south had been contaminated with the H5N8 strain in December as a result of an outbreak at the factory. “This situation did not develop further,” she said.
In an email, WHO’s European arm said that Russia had been informed of human H5N8 infection and admitted that if this was confirmed, the strain would have infected people for the first time.
“Preliminary information indicates that the reported cases were workers exposed to bird flocks,” the email said. “They were asymptomatic and no more person was recorded for human transmission.
“We are in discussion with national authorities to gather more information and assess the public health impact of this event,” the email said.
Many human bird flu infections have been associated with direct contact with live or dead poultry infected, although food that is properly cooked is considered healthy.
Sometimes, bird flu outbreaks cause poultry plants to slaughter their birds so that the virus does not spread and place trade restrictions on importing countries.
The vast majority of cases are distributed by migrating wild birds, so countries that produce prefer to maintain their poultry indoors or covered against contact with wildlife.
Siberia Vector Institute announced on Saturday that it will commence the production of human testing and H5N8 vaccine, news agency RIA said.
(Additional reports by Polina Devitt and Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber, Edited by Mark Heinrich and David Holmes, by Vladimir Soldatkin)