5th Brit Infected with Bird Flu
Global health agencies recently warned of the continuing avian influenza (influenza A H5N1) outbreaks in birds and mammals and the increasing risks to people.
The U.K. Health Security Agency (UKHSA) today announced two additional human infections since March 2023, increasing England's total to 5 detections since 2021, including one in December 2021.
As of July 10, 2023, 144 individuals from 8 infected premises have been tested, of which four were positive (2.7% positivity).
The two recent detections were in individuals exposed to the previously reported bird flu cases at different premises.
These new human detection sequences are influenza A(H5N1) clade 220.127.116.11b and consistent with the U.K. genotype AIV48, also known as the A/gull/France/22P015977/2022-like genotype.
Globally, since December 2021, 15 human detections of influenza A(H5N1) have been reported officially.
But only one bird flu case in the United States.
Dr. Meera Chand, Director of Clinical and Emerging Infections at UKHSA said in a press release on July 14, 2023, "Current evidence suggests that the avian influenza viruses we're seeing circulating in birds around the world do not spread easily to people."
However, we know already that the virus can spread to people following close contact with infected birds."
"These detections can follow contamination of the nose and throat from breathing in material from the environment or be due to infection. It can be difficult to distinguish these in people with no symptoms."
The UKHSA's Technical Briefing #5 on avian influenza, published on July 14, 2023, confirmed detections of influenza in farmed poultry continue in England but remain at low levels compared to the last quarter of 2022.
Wild bird detections continue to be geographically dispersed across England, strongly associated with gull and tern species.
International surveillance varies but continues to show spill-over into mammalian species.
Since the last UKHSA technical briefing, there have been reports of detections of influenza A(H5N1) in cats in Poland and of a continued sea lion die-off in South America.
There is no evidence of human-to-human transmission from any detections, and recent findings do not change the UKHSA's assessment of human health risk, which remains at level 3 (limited mammalian transmission, low confidence).
In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Situation Summary issued as of July 5, 2023, confirmed the current risk to the public from bird flu viruses remains low.
However, continued sporadic human infections are anticipated.
During this bird flu outbreak, 47 states have reported outbreaks.
As of July 14, 2023, the U.S. government has stockpiled various avian influenza vaccines in case of a human pandemic.