Human case of bird flu detected in UK


Britain’s Health Protection Agency (UKHSA) has said that a person in the South West of England has confirmed bird flu.

The risk to the wider public is very low, UKHSA said, but urged people not to touch sick or dead birds.

In a statement, the health protection body said: “Bird to human transmission of avian flu is very rare and has previously occurred much less frequently in the UK.

“The person acquired the infection from very close, regular contact with a large number of infected birds, which they had kept in and around their home for a long period of time.

“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.”

Britain has recently seen a large number of bird flu outbreaks among animals, with the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Christine Middlemis, issuing a warning to bird owners on hygiene.

There is currently no evidence that this strain found in the UK can be transmitted from person to person

On 21 December, she said the UK had suffered its biggest outbreak of bird flu, with more than 60 confirmed cases nationwide since early November.

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 found in birds was of type ‘H5’.

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).

Cases of avian flu have been detected in birds in farms nationwide (Danny Lawson/PA) , PA Archive