Russian scientists have detected the first-ever case of transmission of the H5N8 strain of avian flu to humans.
Scientists from the Rospotrebnadzor, Russia’s health consumer reported that the case was discovered in 7 workers at a poultry farm in southern Russia in December.
Anna Popova, the head of Rospotrebnadzor said that the infections have since then been reported to the World Health Organization (WHO).
“It is not transmitted from person to person. But only time will tell how soon future mutations will allow it to overcome this barrier. The discovery of this strain now gives us all, the whole world, time to prepare for possible mutations and the possibility to react in a timely way and develop test systems and vaccines,” said Popova.
Popova however clarified that the workers did not suffer any serious consequences after being infected with the virus and have recovered.
The H5N8 strain has already spread across Russia, Europe, China, the Middle East, and North Africa in recent months but only infected birds.
Only the H5N1, H7N9, and H9N2 have been known to spread to humans. and are known to have negative effects.
According to the WHO, there have been 862 laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with the H5N1 strain including 455 deaths since 2003 in 17 countries six have died from the H5N6 avian flu so far
Siberia’s Vector Institute has already announced it would start conducting human tests and developing a vaccine against H5N8.