MOSCOW, February 20. /TASS/. A novel bird flu has been detected in seven workers of a poultry farm in southern Russia, Head of the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing Anna Popova said at a briefing on Saturday.
"Scientists of the Vector Center isolated the genetic material of this kind of bird flu in seven workers of a poultry farm in the south of the Russian Federation, where an outbreak in bird population was recorded in December 2020," she said. The top sanitary doctor indicated that this was the first confirmed case of the infection of humans with the A(H5N8) bird flu virus worldwide.
According to her, all measures for the protection of humans and animals were implemented shortly, all risks were minimized and the situation did not develop further.
"All seven people I am talking about today are in good health, the clinical course of the disease was very mild. Yet at the same time our scientists managed to see changes in the human body and an immune response to the encounter with this virus in all seven workers of this poultry farm. Today they are in good health and back then they were feeling well too, the disease ended rather quickly," the watchdog chief added.
Russia has sent to the World Health Organization (WHO) the information on the first case of humans being infected with the novel bird flu, Anna Popova said. "The data on the first case of the infection of humans with the A(H5N8) flu have already been sent to the World Health Organization. This happened a few days ago, as soon as we became absolutely confident in our results," she said.
"The Vector Center of the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing has already added to the international GISAID database the data of a whole genome sequencing of the А(H5N8) virus with those mutations that allowed it to cross the interspecies barrier," she added.
Cases of transmission of the novel bird flu virus between humans have not been registered yet, the head of the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing said.
"So far we can see that the novel agent of the A(H5N8) bird flu is capable of transmission from birds to humans - it crossed the interspecies barrier. Yet as of today, this version of a flu virus is not transmitted from human to human," she said.
According to the head of the sanitary watchdog, "time will tell how soon subsequent mutations will allow it to cross this barrier as well."
"This scientific discovery of our researchers, of the Vector Center of the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing, allows us to warn scientists, practitioners and people worldwide to undertake the necessary measures in time and counteract the new threat on a significantly different and new high level of counteraction and prevention. Today we have time to do so," the top sanitary doctor emphasized.