People got suspicious two days ago when chickens started dying in two farms in Kodiyathur and Vengeri villages prompting authorities to send samples to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases in Bhopal which confirmed the presence of avian flu, officials said. (Image used for representation).(FILE PHOTO.)
People got suspicious two days ago when chickens started dying in two farms in Kodiyathur and Vengeri villages prompting authorities to send samples to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases in Bhopal which confirmed the presence of avian flu, officials said. (Image used for representation).(FILE PHOTO.)

All you need to know about H5N8 strain of avian flu

  • The H5N8 is a sub-type of the Influenza A virus that causes flu-like symptoms in birds and mammals. Before Russia reported its first case of human transmission H5N8 was largely believed to be restricted to birds and poultry.
By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Ayshee Bhaduri, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 20, 2021 10:33 PM IST

Russia on Saturday reported the world's first case of transmission of the H5N8 strain of avian flu from animals to humans. Seven workers of a poultry farm in southern Russia, were found to be infected where an outbreak was recorded among the birds in December.

What is H5N8?

The H5N8 is a sub-type of the Influenza A virus that causes flu-like symptoms in birds and mammals. Before Russia reported its first case of human transmission H5N8 was largely believed to be restricted to birds and poultry. The more widely known strain of avian influenza is the H1N1, which is responsible for all the major flu outbreaks, like 1918 Spanish flu, the 2009 Swine flu outbreak et al. Reuters reported that in recent months outbreaks of the H5N8 strain have been reported in Russia, Europe, China, the Middle East and North Africa but only ever in poultry till Saturday.

Is it lethal for humans?

The H5N8 strain of avian influenza is not lethal for humans, a fact that Anna Popova, head of Russian consumer health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, attested to. The seven Russian poultry farm workers who had been infected are doing okay, according to Reuters. Recently, an H5N8 outbreak was reported in Beed district of Maharashtra, reported news agency ANI.

Properly cooked meat or poultry and boiled eggs are considered to be safe for human consumption by the ministry of fisheries, animal husbandry and dairying. "It is appealed to the citizens that they should not consume raw, half-cooked poultry meat or eggs. It is also urged not to spread misconceptions and rumors based on unscientific information about bird flu," said the ministry.

During the budget season of the Parliament, minister of state for health Ashwini Choubey, told Lok Sabha that strains of H5N1, H5N8, and H5 have been detected in India so far. However, no laboratory-confirmed human cases of avian influenza have been reported in the country. Reuters reported on February 3, in the midst of a similar outbreak in Germany, that risk to human beings is considered to be low and it mostly leads to massive culling of poultry.

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