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Russia says it has discovered the first case of H5N8 bird flu in humans

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Russia said on Saturday its scientists had discovered the first case of H5N8 bird flu transmission to humans and had alerted the World Health Organization.

“Information about the world’s first case of bird flu transmission to humans has already been sent to the World Health Organization,” the head of Russian health observer Rospotrebnadzor, Anna Popova, said in a televised remarks.

The highly contagious type is deadly to birds, but has never before been reported to have spread to humans.

Popova said scientists at Russia’s Vector Laboratory had isolated genetic material of the kind from seven workers on a poultry farm in southern Russia, where an outbreak was recorded among birds in December.

The workers did not suffer any serious health consequences, she added.

Popova praised the “important scientific discovery”, saying “time will tell” if the virus could be further transformed.

“Discovering these mutations when the virus has not yet acquired the ability to transmit from human to human gives us all, the whole world, time to prepare for possible mutations and to react appropriately and time, “Popova said.

Located in Koltsovo outside the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, the State Center for Virology and Biotechnology Vector has developed one of several Russian coronavirus vaccines.

In the Soviet era, the top secret laboratory conducted secret research on biological weapons and still collects viruses ranging from Ebola to smallpox.



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