Russia has reported the world’s first case of human infection with the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A(H5N8) strain of bird flu.

The announcement was made on Saturday 20 February by head of consumer health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor Anna Popova.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has been informed that seven workers at a poultry plant had been infected with the H5N8 strain during an outbreak in December.

The individuals are said to have since made a full recovery.

Popova said there was no sign of transmission between humans so far.

Ireland cases

Meanwhile, Ireland has confirmed 30 cases of the H5N8 strain in wild birds since 10 November 2020.

The cases have been confirmed in the counties of Cavan, Cork, Donegal, Galway, Kildare, Limerick, Louth, Mayo, Monaghan, Wexford and Wicklow.

The Monaghan cases were detected in the Ballybay area and included three mute swans and most recently a cormorant, confirmed on 23 December 2020.

A different subtype of bird flu, HPAI H5N3, has been confirmed in two knot birds, which had been found on Clogherhead, Co Louth.

HPAI has been circulating widely in wild birds in Europe, affecting 16 countries, with more than 1,000 confirmed cases reported since the beginning of last November.

Biosecurity measures

Infected wild birds can act as reservoirs of avian influenza viruses and spread the disease to poultry and captive birds through direct contact and indirect contact through faecal contamination.

On 1 December 2020, the Department of Agriculture introduced biosecurity measures which introduced a ban on bird gatherings.

In addition, a housing order was introduced on 21 December 2020, requiring all poultry and other captive birds to be housed or confined in a manner which prevents access by wild birds.

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30 cases of bird flu confirmed since November 2020