In the Novosibirsk center “Vector,” the first case of human infection with the H5N8 avian influenza virus was recorded. This was reported by the head of the department Anna Popova.
According to Popova, the virus was detected in seven employees of a poultry farm in southern Russia, where an outbreak of influenza was registered among the poultry population in December 2020. All the sick employees, as Popova reported, endured the disease well; the clinical picture of the course of the disease was very light, while the researchers were able to record the reaction of the immune response to the infection in all the patients.
Popova stressed that, although the transition of the avian virus to humans was recorded for the first time, it is not yet transmitted from person to person.
How quickly subsequent mutations will allow him to overcome this barrier, time will tell. The detection of these changes, while the virus is not yet able to be transmitted from person to person, gives us time to prepare for possible changes and respond adequately to them.
An outbreak of infections with the highly pathogenic H5N8 influenza strain was observed in birds in several countries throughout 2020. According to the European Centers for Disease Prevention (ECDC), as of November 19, 2020, the infection was detected at least 302 times in different parts of Europe — Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
Most of these cases occur in wild bird populations: white-cheeked ducks, mallards, and other ducks. However, several cases of infections on poultry farms have also been recorded.
In the 2020 outbreak study conducted by the ECDC, no cases of human infection could be confirmed.
H5 and H7 types of influenza are highly pathogenic to birds. Outbreaks associated with these viruses have been recorded since 1996. One of the latter occurred in France in 2016-2017 and led to significant economic losses.
According to the World Health Organization for 2016, no cases of transmission of the H5N8 virus to humans during outbreaks of the disease among animals have been recorded. Nevertheless, China has already reported cases of human infection with a closely related type of avian influenza-H5N6.