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1st human infection with H5N8 strain
Published on: 2021-02-22
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The H5N8 strain of bird flu has been detected in seven workers at a poultry farm in Russia, the first time it has been found in humans, according to media reports. Chinese experts said although it may not become a black swan event, the discovery is a warning for countries that reported outbreaks of the strain. And they advised these countries to set up appropriate mechanisms to prevent inter-species transmission.

Human-to-human transmission of the novel bird flu virus has not been registered yet, Tass quoted a Russian official as saying on Sunday.

Yang Zhanqiu, deputy director of the pathogen biology department at Wuhan University, said on Sunday that the pathogenicity of avian influenza seems not to be high judging by the current mild condition of the patients, which indicates the H5N8 bird flu outbreak is not that risky.

Zhu Yi, an associate professor at China Agricultural University in Beijing, believes that the discovery that the new strain has passed from birds to human might not become a black swan event, at most a "gray rhino event." Gray rhinos usually refer to non-random events which occur after a series of warnings and visible evidence.

Both Chinese experts pointed out that the possibility of human-to-human transmission cannot be ruled out if the virus mutates.

China reported cases of the H5N8 bird flu among wild birds in at least four places in the last three months, causing the death of more than 50 birds, mostly wild swans.

The highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses are mainly transmitted through physical contact with infected poultry, their secretions and excrement, and it could also cause infections via respiratory and digestive tracts. Wild birds are easily cross-infected during migration.




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