New Delhi (NVI): Russia said its scientists had detected the first case of transmission of the H5N8 strain of avian flu to humans and had alerted the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Authorities have sent information on the seven cases detected in workers at a poultry farm in southern Russia to WHO,” Anna Popova, the country’s public-health chief, said in televised comments today.
“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.
She added, “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 affected workers at the poultry farm, where an outbreak among birds was reported in December, had mild cases and have recovered.
There are different subtypes of avian influenza viruses.
While the highly contagious strain H5N8 is lethal for birds it has never before been reported to have spread to humans.
People can get infected with avian and swine influenza viruses, such as bird flu subtypes A(H5N1) and A(H7N9) and swine flu subtypes such as A(H1N1).
According to the WHO, people usually get infected through direct contact with animals or contaminated environments, and there is no sustained transmission among humans.
Avian flu has raged in several European countries including France, where hundreds of thousands of birds have been culled to stop the infection.