The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed to CNN that Russian authorities have detected what is believed to be “human infection with avian influenza H5N8.”
Russia reported to WHO of the possible strain. “If confirmed, this would be first time H5N8 has infected people, ” says a WHO Europe spokesperson.
According to preliminary information, the reported cases were workers exposed to bird flocks. Said workers were “asymptomatic and no onward human-to-human transmission was reported,” says the spokesperson.
On a televised briefing, meanwhile, Dr. Anna Popova, head of Russia’s Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Well-being, says that the strain had been detected in seven poultry workers in the south of the country, Russian news agency TASS reported.
While no confirmation has been released yet from the WHO, Russian health authorities are in discussion with national authorities to gather more information and “assess the public health impact” of the incident. As avian flu usually affects only birds, there are reportedly many strains of it.
Most cases of human infection are caused by contact with infected poultry or surfaces that are contaminated with infected bird excretions: saliva, nasal secretions, or feces.
In 2014 the H5N8 outbreak infected poultry farms in Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. (JSM/JuanManila)