The UK recently reported the first human case of rare bird flu in a person living in the South West of England.
Influenza viruses are of several types and can infect both humans and animals. Close contact with birds and pigs can often transfer these viruses from animals to humans. Although human-to-human transmission of bird flu is very rare, there have been cases of various strains spreading among humans and causing pandemics. Last year, health authorities in Russia and China reported human cases of rare bird flu strains. Now, the UK has reported its first case of a rare bird flu strain.
According to the UK Health Security Agency’s press release, the man was found to have the rare H5N1 strain of bird flu. Previously, the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) had announced outbreaks of H5N1 among birds in the country. They had further issued warnings to bird owners. The affected individual likely had prolonged contact with infected birds which he kept around his home.
This is the UK’s first human case of the H5N1 strain; however, previously cases have occurred across the world. Since 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) has detected more than 800 human cases of the rare strain from across 18 countries.
Risk Remains Low
UK Health officials have traced all close contacts of the infected individual and are continuing to monitor the situation. All those with exposure to birds are contacted daily for symptoms of bird flu. Moreover, even those without symptoms are swabbed to improve detection and reduce the risk of transmission.
While experts state the risk of human-to-human transmission is extremely low, they urge those at risk to maintain distance from sick or dead birds. They further advise people to report the detection of infected birds to the authorities.
Source: UK Health Security Agency