Russia has recorded the first strain of the H5N8 virus, also known as bird flu, in humans.
Seven workers at a poultry plant in Russia’s south were infected with the strain following an outbreak at the plant in December, explained consumer health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor Anna Popova on Saturday, February 20.
Adequate measures were put into place to contain the outbreak, and all workers have since made a full recovery.
The matter was reported to the World Health Organization (WHO). Thus far, there have been no cases of transmission between humans.
Most human bird flu infections are associated with direct contact with infected live or dead poultry. This highly contagious strain can be lethal for birds. This is the first reported instance of the H5N8 virus passing from animals to humans.
Bird flu can become a massive issue, and poultry farmers often kill their animals once the strain is detected to prevent it from spreading. It is largely spread by migrating wild birds.
Siberia’s Vector Institute has isolated the strain’s genetic material and will begin testing and work on a vaccine against the H5N8 virus.
“The discovery of these mutations when the virus has not still acquired an ability to transmit from human to human gives us all, the entire world, time to prepare for possible mutations and react in an adequate and timely fashion,” Popova said, according to the BBC.