In Brief: Russia reports first case of bird flu strain H5N8 in humans

Russia has reported the first case of the H5N8 bird flu strain being passed from poultry to humans. Photo by: Artem Beliaikin

On Sunday, Russia detected the H5N8 strain of avian influenza in seven poultry farm workers. The workers were reportedly infected during an outbreak at a poultry plant in December.

The workers are now well, and there was also no reported human-to-human transmission. The World Health Organization has since been notified and is in discussion with Russian authorities to gather more information.

Why it matters: Outbreaks of H5N8 in poultry have been reported in different parts of the world, but this would be the first reported case of the H5N8 strain infecting humans if confirmed, according to WHO.

The strain is considered highly pathogenic in poultry, meaning it can cause severe disease with high mortality.

There are a number of strains related to avian influenza, and some of them have infected humans. That includes the strain H5N1 that caused an outbreak in Hong Kong in 1997, which killed six people. There have been 862 reported cases of human infection with the H5N1 strain from January 2003 to Feb. 4, 2021, with a case fatality rate of 53%, according to WHO.

About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.