MOSCOW – Russia on Saturday said its scientists had discovered the world’s first case of transmission of the H5N8 strain of avian flu from birds to humans and had alerted the World Health Organization

On a television announcement, the head of the Russian health watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor, Anna Popova, scientists at the vector laboratory had isolated the genetic material of the strain from seven workers at a poultry farm in southern Russia, where an outbreak among birds was recorded in Russia December / p>

The workers had no serious health consequences, she added. It is believed that they caught the virus from poultry on the farm

“Information on the world’s first human flu (H5N8) transmission has already been sent to the World Health Organization,” said Popova

While the highly contagious strain H5N8 is deadly to birds, it has never been reported to have spread to humans

Popova praised “the important scientific discovery” and said “time will tell” whether the virus can continue to mutate

“The discovery of these mutations, when the virus is not yet able to transmit from person to person, gives all of us around the world time to prepare for possible mutations and respond appropriately and in a timely manner,” said Popova

“We are in discussion with national authorities to gather more information and assess the public health impact of this event,” said a spokesman

WHO stressed that Russian workers were “asymptomatic” and no person-to-person transmission had been reported

People can become infected with avian flu viruses and swine flu viruses such as avian flu subtypes A (H5N1) and A (H7N9) and swine flu subtypes such as A (H1N1)

According to the WHO, humans usually become infected through direct contact with animals or contaminated environments, and there is no sustained transmission among humans

Gwenael Vourc’h, head of research at the French National Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment, said that influenza viruses are known to develop “fairly quickly” and that there may have been other cases besides those reported in Russia

Francois Renaud, a researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), however, said he was “not particularly concerned” at this point

He added that the coronavirus pandemic had taught countries to respond quickly to potential health threats “Draconic measures are being taken to stop the outbreak immediately,” he said

Avian flu has raged in several European countries, including France, where hundreds of thousands of birds were killed to stop the infection

The Russian Vector Virology and Biotechnology Center in Russia, which found the transmission to poultry farmers, also developed one of the country’s various coronavirus vaccines

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During the Soviet era, the Koltsovo laboratory conducted secret biological weapons research outside the Siberian city of Novosibirsk

On TV views, Vektor chief Rinat Maksyutov said the lab was ready to begin developing test kits that could detect potential cases of H5N8 in humans and begin work on a vaccine

The Soviet Union was a scientific powerhouse, and Russia has tried to regain leadership in vaccine research under President Vladimir Putin

Russia registered the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine in August, months ahead of Western competitors and even before large-scale clinical trials

After initial skepticism in the West, the Lancet-Journal released results this month showing that the Russian vaccine – named after the Soviet-era satellite – is safe and effective

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World news – USA – Russia discovers the first case of H5N8 bird flu in humans