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Russia confirms first case of human infection with H5N8 strain of bird flu: Here's all you need to know

03:56 PM Feb 21, 2021 | FPJ Web Desk

Russian health authorities on Saturday reported the first human transmission of the H5N8 strain of avian flu.

"I want to make an announcement on an important scientific discovery by scientists off Rospotrebnadzor's Vector research center. The first case of human infection with the H5N8 strain of the Avian influenza A virus in the Russian Federation was confirmed in a laboratory," Anna Popova said, as aired on Russia-24 broadcaster.

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Anna Popova said scientists have isolated the genetic material of this bird flu virus in seven workers of a poultry farm in south Russia, where an outbreak among fowls was reported in December, the Xinhua news agency reported. Anna Popova is head of the country's consumer rights and human well-being watchdog Rospotrebnadzor.

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All necessary measures were immediately taken to protect humans and animals, and the infection did not spread further, she said in a briefing. The seven people who were infected are now feeling better, with only mild clinical symptoms, Popova added.

What is H5N8?

The H5N8 strain is a sub-type of the Influenza A virus that usually affects birds and mammals. It poses a low risk to people, but the virus is highly lethal to wild birds and poultry.

Can it infect humans?

According to reports, the H5N8 strain is not lethal for humans. Seven workers at a poultry plant in Russia's south were infected with the H5N8 strain after an outbreak in birds in December last year, Anna Popova said, adding that they all are fine now.

Where else has the H5N8 strain been reported?

Outbreaks of the H5N8 strain have been reported in Russia, Europe, China, the Middle East and North Africa.

Is eating poultry safe?

According to the WHO, people usually get infected through direct contact with animals or contaminated environments, and there is no sustained transmission among humans.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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