H5N8 - an avian influenza, for the first time, is found to cause human infection that is detected in the workers exposed to bird flocks, as per Russian authorities report to World Health Organization (WHO) & CNN.
"Today, I want to inform you about an important scientific discovery made by scientists at the Vector scientific center. The first cases of human infection with [avian influenza A(H5N8)] have been laboratory confirmed", says Anna Popova, the head of Russia's Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing.
So far, the highly pathogenic virus has affected seven workers at a poultry farm in southern Russia where outbreaks of H5N8 were reported in the bird population in December 2020.
The H5N8 Bird Flu
H5N8 outbreak as witnessed by Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom in 2014, is said to be found in birds since at least 1983. The H5N8 type influenza is currently being manifested in a variety of ways, from asymptomatic and sub-clinical to highly lethal in some populations.
"The virus can be transmitted from birds to humans, it has overcome the interspecies barrier. As of today, this variant of the influenza virus is not being transmitted from person to person. Only time will tell how quickly future mutations will allow it to overcome this barrier", says Popova.
The present issue is in discussion with national authorities to gather more information and "assess the public health impact" of the incident, although it is still not confirmed by the WHO.
However, WHO warrants surveillance and community awareness regarding the potential dangers and detection in human cases. This would aid in early changes in transmissibility and infectivity of the viruses.