Britain’s Health Protection Agency announced on Thursday that a man in the south-west of England has been confirmed to have avian flu.,
The agency said the person was in close contact with infected birds and there was no evidence of further transmission.
“The person acquired the infection from very close, regular contact with a large number of infected birds, which they kept in and around their home for long periods of time,” UKHSA said.
“All the contacts of the person including those who visited the premises have been traced and there is no evidence of further spread of the infection to anyone else. The person is currently fine and is self-isolating. The risk to the wider public from avian flu is very small.”
According to the UKHSA, some strains of bird flu can be passed from birds to people, but this is extremely rare.
It usually requires close contact with an infected bird, so the risk to humans is generally thought to be very low.
The organization said human-to-human transmission of bird flu is also very rare.
The case came after the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) identified an outbreak of the H5N1 strain of bird flu in flocks.
All infected birds have been killed.
As a precaution, the UKHSA swabbed the person involved and detected low levels of flu.
Further laboratory analysis revealed that the virus was the type “H5” found in birds.
The UKHSA said that, at this point, it is not possible to confirm that this is an H5N1 infection (the strain that is currently circulating in birds in the UK).
But the UKHSA has informed the World Health Organization (WHO) as a precaution.
It said it was the first human case of the strain in the UK, although cases have been reported elsewhere globally.
Professor Isabel Oliver, UKHSA’s Chief Scientific Officer, said: “While the risk of avian flu to the general public is very small, we know that some strains have the potential to spread to humans and so we have robust systems in place to prevent these early. can be detected and action taken.
“There is currently no evidence that this strain found in the UK can spread from person to person, but we know that viruses evolve all the time and we continue to monitor the situation closely.
“We have followed all the contacts of this person and have not identified any further spread.”
He told lawmakers that there was an avian influenza containment zone Declared across the UK In early November, strict biosecurity measures and the need to keep all birds indoors were introduced.
On Wednesday, the World Animal Health Organization warned of a wave of bird flu in Asia and Europe with the higher number of types at greater risk of spreading to humans.
The spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza has raised concerns among governments and the poultry industry as previous outbreaks caused millions of birds and trade restrictions were decimated.
“This time the situation is more difficult and more risky as we see more variants emerging, making them harder to follow,” CEO Monique Eloitte told Reuters.
“Eventually the risk is that it mutates or it mixes with the human flu virus that can be transmitted between humans, then suddenly it takes on a whole new dimension,” she said.
Fifteen countries had reported outbreaks of bird flu in poultry between the end of October and December, mostly the H5N1 strain. Italy was the worst affected in Europe with 285 outbreaks and nearly four million birds were killed, the data showed.
Outbreaks usually begin in autumn, when the infection is spread by migrating wild birds.
For contacts of an infected person who are most at risk, UKHSA contacts them daily to see if they have developed symptoms.
People are also given anti-viral treatment after coming into contact with infected birds to prevent the virus from reproducing in their bodies.
Swabs are done on people even when they do not have symptoms.
Professor Mike Tildesley from the University of Warwick said: “This is obviously going to be big news but the important thing is that human infection with H5N1 is really rare (less than 1,000 worldwide since 2003) and they Almost always results in direct, long-term contact with poultry.
“This could result in a nasty infection for the person concerned but there has never been any evidence of human-to-human transmission of H5N1, so at present I would not consider it a significant public health risk.”
Paul Wigley, Professor of Avian Infection and Immunity at the University of Liverpool, said: “While avian influenza has the potential to be transmitted from poultry to humans, it is very rare and, in this case, usually near- and long-term with infected birds. permanent contact.
“Avian influenza-like H5 serotypes are largely adapted to infect birds and are therefore very unlikely to be transmitted from person to person.
“The advice given by APHA and UKHSA on exposure to infected birds is sensitive and should be followed. The risk of widespread infection among the general public remains low.”