Russia on Saturday confirmed the detection of avian influenza (H5N8) virus on humans as the first cases of human infection of the strain in the world. Scientists at the Vector scientific center have discovered that the highly pathogenic virus, H5N8, can be transmitted from birds to humans.
According to information conferred to the World Health Organization (WHO), seven poultry workers were infected with the H5N8 strain in December, who are now free of the influenza. However, Anna Popova, head of the Russian health agency Rospotrebnadzor, stated that there were no signs of human-to-human transmission yet.
"The discovery of these mutations when the virus has not still acquired an ability to transmit from human to human gives us all, the entire world, time to prepare for possible mutations and react in an adequate and timely fashion," Popova added.
WHO said in a statement that they are in contact with the Russian authorities to gather more information and assess the public health implications of the discovery. Though such transmission usually occurs when with direct contact with infected environments is rare and is rare, WHO suggests monitoring the evolution of this virus as it may further mutate.
According to WHO, humans can be infected with H5N1, H7N9 and H9N2 avian influenza and has recorded 239 human cases of H5N1 bird flu and 134 related deaths in China and Southeast Asia since 2003.
Bird flu outbreaks are usually dealt with mass culling of the affected birds and the detected countries are exempted from importing of all species of domestic and wild live birds, ornamental birds, chicks, hatching eggs and their thermally untreated by-products.