First Human Case of Avian Influenza Reported in Russia

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Russia has now reported they have found the world’s first case of the H5N8 strain of avian influenza in humans.  Officials say the virus is not spreading between people at this time.  Seven cases were detected in workers at a poultry farm in Russia.  Anna Popova, Russia’s public-health chief, said, “It is not transmitted from person to person. But only time will tell how soon future mutations will allow it to overcome this barrier,” she said. The discovery of this strain 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.”

The workers have since recovered from the virus, and according to the WHO, “They were asymptomatic and no onward human-to-human transmission was reported.” Back in November is was reported that a new strain of the H5N8 flu was circulating in Russia but at the time was not considered dangerous to humans.  In January a similar scare caused the slaughter of more than 2 million poultry in France. 

The WHO said on their website, ““Though human infections with A(H5) viruses are rare and generally occur in individuals exposed to sick or dead infected birds (or their environments), they can lead to severe illness or death in humans.”

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