Bird flu: Two poultry workers infected with the virus in England, UK health officials confirm
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Bird flu has been detected in two poultry workers in the UK, the UK Health Security Agency has said. It is believed that the cases are linked to exposure to sick birds on a poultry farm in England where the two people recently worked.
There are no signs of human-to-human transmission. It is understood that neither worker suffered symptoms of infection and that both cases were found during screening.
The UKHSA is currently running a programme of testing workers who deal with birds infected with avian flu, but is also running asymptomatic testing. The first human case being reported was detected via a swab put in the nose and experts believe it is likely this worker may have inhaled the virus.
Bird flu detected in humans can either be a true infection or can come after the nose and throat are contaminated when breathing in materials on the affected farm. The second person is thought to be a more complicated case as it is not clear whether they have suffered a genuine infection or whether they have inhaled the virus.
Further investigation is underway but precautionary contact tracing has been undertaken for the second worker. The level of risk to human health has not changed since the detection of bird flu and the danger remains very low to the general population.
Professor Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser at UKHSA, said: “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 and this is why, through screening programmes like this one, we are monitoring people who have been exposed to learn more about this risk.”
“Globally there is no evidence of spread of this strain from person to person, but we know that viruses evolve all the time and we remain vigilant for any evidence of changing risk to the population. It remains critical that people avoid touching sick or dead birds, and that they follow the DEFRA advice about reporting.”