Just As The World Is Beginning To Deal With SARS-CoV-2 Variants, Fatal H5N8 Avian Flu Cases In Humans Debuts In Russia!
Just as the world is beginning to deal with the threat of emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants globally, Russia announced on Saturday that its scientists had detected the first cases of transmission of the H5N8
strain of avian flu to humans and had alerted the World Health Organization.
Russian health authorities had discovered the first human cases of the highly infectious H5N8 bird flu virus at a poultry farm in the south of the country; it emerged a few days ago.
Russian scientists identified seven workers who were infected with the virus in December. It is the first time this strain of avian influenza which is deadly to birds has been identified in humans.
The head of Russia's health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, Dr Anna Popova in a televised interview, said scientists at the Vektor laboratory had isolated the strain's genetic material from seven workers at a poultry farm in southern Russia, where an outbreak was recorded among the birds in December.
She added, "Information about the world's first case of transmission of the avian flu (H5N8) to humans has already been sent to the World Health Organization.”
The deadly H5N8 strain of bird flu was detected in poultry in the UK in December 2020 according to the European Food Safety Authority. Hundreds of thousands of birds including turkeys were slaughtered in a bid to stall the spread of the virus.
Alarmingly the highly infectious disease which has an avian mortality rate up to 100 per cent has also been detected in migratory and wild birds across the continent.
The H5N8 strain of bird flu has never before been previously reported to have spread to humans.
Dr Popova praised "the important scientific discovery," saying "time will tell" if the virus can further mutate.
She stressed, "The discovery of these mutations when the virus has not still acquired an ability to transmit from human to human gives us all, the entire world, time to prepare for possible mutations and react in an adequate and timely fashion.”
Humans can get infected with avian and swine influenza viruses, such as bird flu subtypes A(H5N1) and A(H7N9) and swine flu subtypes such as A(H1N1).
It was said that according to the WHO, (An organization that is famous for getting things wrong!) people usually get infected through direct contact with animals or contaminated environments, and there is no sustained transmission among humans.(Similarly to what they had said initially in the case of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus!)
The H5N1 flu in people can cause severe disease and has a 60 percent mortality rate.
Interestingly located in Koltsovo outside the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, the Vektor State Virology and Biotechnology Center has developed one of Russia's several coronavirus vaccines.
During the Soviet era the top-secret lab conducted secret biological weapons research and still stockpiles viruses ranging from Ebola to smallpox.
Appearing in televised remarks, Vektor head Dr Rinat Maksyutov said the lab was rea
dy to begin developing test kits that would help detect potential cases of H5N8 in humans and to begin work on a vaccine.
Previously the Soviet Union was a scientific powerhouse and Russia has sought to reclaim a leadership role in vaccine research under President Vladimir Putin.
Hence Russia registered coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V in August, months before Western competitors and even before large-scale clinical trials.
Despite initial skepticism in the West, the Lancet journal this month published results showing the Russian vaccine named after the Soviet-era satellite to be safe and effective.
Reports surfaced late last year that showed the H5N8 strain was prevalent in birds in at least 15 regions in Russia, and cases had been identified in China, the Middle East, North Africa and parts of Europe.
The Avian flu has raged in several European countries including France, where hundreds of thousands of birds have been culled to stop the infection.
The entity called the European Food Safety Authority has been tracking the spread of the H5N8 virus across the continent.
European health officials had found the new virus in poultry in Poland in December 2019.
Shockingly within three months the virus had spread across the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania. Also between March and June 2020, the disease had spread to Bulgaria.
The EFSA also reported that at the end of October 2020, H5N8 was detected in wild birds in the Netherlands.
Officials from the EFSA said, 'Since then and until the end of 2020, a high number of dead and sick wild birds, mostly of migratory species, were found to be infected with HPAI viruses of subtypes H5N8, H5N5, H5N1 and H5N3 being detected by several EU countries and the United Kingdom. The largest number of cases in wild birds were reported in the Northern part of Germany, in Denmark and in the Netherlands. Between October and end of December 2020, the disease was also confirmed in poultry in Croatia, Denmark, France, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom.”
It was also reported that some 14,000 turkeys were slaughtered earlier this month in the German state of Brandenburg after they were infected with the strain.
At the same time a series of outbreaks of bird flu have been reported in Germany and elsewhere in Europe in past months with wild birds suspected to be spreading the disease.
It was also said by the Sweden's Board of Agriculture that Sweden planned to cull around 1.3 million chickens after bird flu was found on a farm in the country.
WHO officials told Thailand Medical News that they are in discussion with Russian national authorities to gather more information and assess the public health impact of this event.
Medical Experts around the world are also worried that with the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing, the emergence of a Avian Bird Flu epidemic such as H5N8 could lead to a reassortant strain emerging if the SARS-CoV-2 and the H5N8 flu virus were to recombine.
Note: While mainstream media around the world are 'bragging' about the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines and claiming that new COVID-19 infections are 'down", we urge readers to carefully monitor the COVID-19 death rates in the last 6 days and and also look at hospilization figues around the world and not the decrease in testings over the same period! Death rates in America and also in UK has shot up over the last few days and testings in countries like Israel has gone down!
For more on the emerging Avian Flu H5N8
Human outbreak, keep on logging to Thailand Medical News.