A poultry owner in the south-west of England has contracted the H5N1 strain of the bird flu after a rare case of bird-to-human case transmission, the UK Health Security Agency has confirmed.

All contacts of the infected poultry owner have been contacted, with none appearing to have the avian influenza virus.

The H5N1 strain of avian flu was confirmed in the poultry owner’s flock of birds, with the infected birds now culled.

“The person acquired the infection from very close, regular contact with a large number of infected birds, which they kept in and around their home over a prolonged period of time,” the UK Health Security Agency stated.

The individual is “currently well and self-isolating” according to the agency.

Rare occurance

“Some strains of bird flu can pass 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 considered very low. Human-to-human transmission of bird flu is very rare.

“The risk to the wider public from avian flu continues to be very low. However, people should not touch sick or dead birds,” it went on.

The agency’s confirmation of a human case comes as flock owners in the UK and Ireland have culled birds in flocks carrying the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of bird flu.