Infected with a strain of bird flu never before detected in a human in the UK

Infected with a strain of bird flu never before detected in a human in the UK

Officials confirmed the UK's first case of avian flu.

The avian flu strain found in the South West of England has never been verified in a human in the UK.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said the risk to the general public remains low, but advised against handling sick or dead birds.

The person contracted the virus from a huge number of diseased birds maintained in and around their home for a long time.

Avian flu transmission from bird to person is extremely rare in the UK.

The individual's contacts, including those who visited the premises, have been traced and there is no evidence of illness spreading to others. The person is OK and alone, the UKHSA said.

The authorities couldn't say where in the South West the case was found.
Avian flu is a kind of influenza that affects birds. The UK has recently experienced many outbreaks and instances of H5N1 avian influenza in birds, prompting the APHA and the UK Chief Veterinary Officer to issue alerts to bird owners.

Some bird flu strains can infect humans, but this is rare. The risk to humans is modest because it usually needs intimate contact with an infected bird. Human-to-human avian flu transmission is rare.

The APHA discovered the case after spotting an epidemic of H5N1 avian flu in the affected person's flock.

UKHSA swabbed the person and found mild flu. Further testing confirmed the infection was a ‘H5' avian virus. It is now impossible to confirm H5N1 infection (the strain which is currently circulating in birds in the UK).

The WHO was contacted and the diseased birds were all killed.
“While the risk of avian flu to the general public is low, we know that some strains have the potential to transfer to humans, which is why we have robust mechanisms in place to detect and respond early.

However, we know that viruses mutate constantly, so we will continue to keep an eye on the issue. We followed up with all of this person's contacts and found no further spread.

“People should not touch sick or dead birds and should report incidents as directed by DEFRA.”
For example, contact tracing, daily checks, antiviral treatment offers, and swabbing of patients without symptoms are all in place, according to UKHSA.

A spokesperson for the British government said avian influenza is very contagious among birds, but this was a rare case that was unique to this location.

“We acted quickly to contain the sickness at the site in question, culling all affected birds humanely and cleaning and disinfecting the facilities. This serves as a reminder to keep animals clean.

“We are finding more cases in commercial farms as well as private flocks around the country. Taking strict biosecurity precautions will keep your birds safe.”

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