Moscow / Berlin – According to the authorities, the H5N8 bird flu virus was transmitted to humans for the first time in Russia. The World Health Organization (WHO) had already been informed about this “important discovery”, said the head of the Russian health protection authority, Anna Popowa, vorgetern. Scientists had detected the virus in 7 people in a poultry factory where bird flu had developed in animals in December.
Federal Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner (CDU) urged increased caution in Germany.
The seven workers from the poultry factory in southern Russia are now feeling “good” again, said Popova on Russian television.
The disease ran without complications in all infected people. Popova praised “the important scientific discovery” made by employees of the vector laboratory. Time will tell whether the virus will continue to mutate. Since the virus is apparently not yet being transmitted from person to person, this gives “the whole world time to prepare for possible mutations and to react appropriately and in good time”.
The vector laboratory is ready to begin developing test kits to detect infections in humans, said laboratory chief Rinat Maxjutov in a televised speech. In addition, the laboratory will start work on a vaccine. During the Soviet era, biological weapons were developed in the vector laboratory in the Novosibirsk region. Today the laboratory is behind one of the three corona vaccines approved in Russia.
The WHO confirmed that it had been informed of the case by Russia and is seeking further information. If the information is confirmed, it is the first transmission of the bird flu virus H5N8 to humans, said a WHO spokesman.
The WHO pointed out, however, that the infected workers had no symptoms of the disease and there are no signs of human-to-human transmission either.
In Germany, according to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, 625 cases of bird flu have been confirmed in wild birds and 65 cases in domestic poultry. Although there is no evidence that the H5N8 viruses currently present in Germany could be transmitted to humans, it said.
The Friedrich Loeffler Institute for Animal Health is in contact with Russian experts.
Klöckner pointed out that dead and sick birds should be reported to the responsible veterinary office. In itself, finding a dead bird in a field or in the forest is nothing special, said her ministry yesterday. However, if several birds have died at one location, it makes sense to inform the veterinary office. Dead birds should not be touched, warned the minister. Anyone who has touched them should disinfect their hands immediately.
Avian influenza, also known as avian influenza, occurs both in wild birds and repeatedly in poultry farms. It has also been proven time and again in Germany. As a rule, the H5N8 virus is fatal for birds, and no threat to humans has been assumed so far.
The mortality rate is 60 percent.
The last major outbreak of avian influenza in Germany and other European countries occurred in the winter of 2016/17. In the Federal Republic of Germany, hundreds of thousands of animals were culled in poultry farms in order to curb the action. © afp / aerzteblatt.de