Russia has registered and reported the world’s first transfer of the H5N8 bird flu strain from birds to humans to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Outbreaks of the H5N8 strain have been reported in Russia, Europe, China, the Middle East, and North Africa in recent months. While the highly contagious strain is lethal for birds, it had never before been reported to have spread to humans.
Reports note that Anna Popova, head of consumer health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, announced in televised remarks that scientists at the Vektor laboratory had isolated the strain’s genetic material from 7 workers at a poultry farm in southern Russia, where an outbreak was recorded among the birds in December. WHO stressed that the Russian workers were “asymptomatic” and no further human-to-human transmissions had been reported.