MOSCOW – Russia said its scientists discovered the first case of transmission of the H5N8 strain Bird flu To humans WHO has alerted.
In televised remarks, the head of the Russian health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, Anna Popova, said that scientists in Victor’s laboratory isolated the genetic material of the strain from seven workers at a poultry farm in southern Russia, where an outbreak among birds was recorded in December.
She added that the workers were not exposed to any serious health consequences.
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“Information about the first human case of bird flu (H5N8) was sent to the World Health Organization,” Popova said.
There are different subtypes of avian influenza viruses.
While the highly contagious H5N8 strain is deadly to birds, its spread to humans has not been previously reported.
Popova hailed the “important scientific discovery,” saying “time will tell” whether the virus can mutate further.
“The discovery of these mutations when the virus has not yet acquired the ability to transmit from person to person gives us all, the whole world, time to prepare for potential mutations and respond in an appropriate and timely manner,” Popova said.
People can become infected with avian and swine flu virus, such as avian influenza subtypes A (H5N1) and A (H7N9) and swine flu subtypes such as A (H1N1).
According to the World Health Organization, people are usually infected through direct contact with animals or contaminated environments, and there is no sustainable transmission between humans.
The H5N1 virus can cause serious illness and has a 60 percent mortality rate.
The Vektor State Virology and Biotechnology Center is located in Koltsovo, just outside the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, and has developed one of Russia’s many coronavirus vaccines.
In Soviet times, the top-secret laboratory conducted covert biological weapons research and still stored viruses ranging from Ebola to smallpox.
Victor Rinat Maxiotov, president of Viktor, said in televised statements that the laboratory was ready to start developing test kits that would help detect potential cases of H5N8 in humans and start work on a vaccine.
The Soviet Union was a scientific power and Russia sought to restore a leading role in vaccine research under President Vladimir Putin.
Russia registered the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine in August, months ahead of Western competitors and even before large-scale clinical trials.
After initial suspicions in the West, the Lancet this month published results showing that the Russian vaccine – named after a Soviet-era satellite – is safe and effective.
Bird flu has spread to several European countries, including France, where hundreds of thousands of birds have been culled to stop the infection.