The United Kingdom confirmed that there was a human case of bird flu on a farm in England

Kyodo/via REUTERS (KYODO/)

The United Kingdom Health Security Agency (UKHSA) notified on January 6 the infection of a man by avian influenza A(H5N1), this would be the first confirmed human case reported in countries of the European Union and the European Economic Area (EU/EEA).

“The case was detected after the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) identified an outbreak of H5N1 in birds. Human infection was identified through routine screening of anyone who has close contact with infected birds. All infected birds have been euthanized,” the agency reported.

Subsequent laboratory analysis confirmed that the virus is of the “H5″ subtype found in birds. However, it has not yet been possible to confirm that it is an H5N1 infection, the strain currently circulating among birds in the UK. Although from the Agency, the published information gives it as confirmed, since “the case was in very close and continued contact with a large number of infected birds.”

All contacts in the case, including people who visited the facilities, have been tested and there is no evidence of further transmission. The infected person, who resides in the south-west of England, “is currently well and in isolation”, points out the Influenza Surveillance Group of the National Epidemiology Center of the Carlos III Health Institute, in its latest weekly reports.

  REUTERS/Michael Kooren
REUTERS/Michael Kooren (Reuters Photographer/)

The UK has recently seen a large number of bird flu outbreaks with the H5N1 strain in birds across the country. Current epidemiological and virological evidence suggests that A(H5N1) viruses have not acquired the capacity for sustained human-to-human transmission, thus the probability of sustained human-to-human transmission is low.

From January 2003 to January 8, 2022, 864 human A(H5N1) infections and 456 deaths (CRF of 53%) have been identified, reported by 19 countries. Human cases linked to the avian influenza A(H5N1) virus could occur in regions where A(H5N1) is endemic in the poultry population, such as Asia, Africa and the Middle East, according to reports received by the World Health Organization. Animals (OIE).

As mentioned, current epidemiological and virological evidence suggests that A(H5N1) viruses have not acquired the capacity for sustained human-to-human transmission, so the probability of sustained human-to-human transmission is low.

The risk of transmission of zoonotic influenza to the general public in EU/EEA countries is considered very low. Direct contact with infected birds or a contaminated environment is the most likely source of infection and the use of personal protection measures for people exposed to dead birds or their droppings will minimize the remaining risk.


The highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H5N1) virus (HPAI) was first detected in 1996 in geese in China. The Asian-derived H5N1 virus was first detected in humans in 1997 amid a poultry outbreak in Hong Kong and has since been detected in poultry and wild birds in more than 50 countries in Africa , Asia, Europe and the Middle East.


Since the last update, a new human case of influenza A(H5N6) has been reported to the World Health Organization (WHO), from the Chinese province of Guangdong. From 2014 to January 8, 2022, two countries, Laos (1) and China (58), have reported 59 cases of avian influenza A(H5N6) infection, of which 26 have died; the last case was reported on January 7, 2022.

All cases had exposure to live poultry or live poultry markets, except for five cases where the source of exposure was not reported. No clusters of cases have been reported.

On February 20, 2021, the media reported the first confirmed detection of avian influenza A(H5N8) virus in humans in the Astrakhan region of Russia. All seven cases worked on a poultry farm and were infected in December 2020 during an A(H5N8) outbreak in poultry on that farm. All human cases presented mild symptoms. So far, no evidence of human-to-human transmission has been reported. This is the first documented evidence where A(H5N8) viruses have been transmitted to humans.

EFE/Stringer. (STRINGER/)

More information is needed to better understand the relevance of this event. A(H5N8) viruses have been circulating in wild birds and have caused outbreaks in poultry farms across Europe since 2014.

(with EP information)


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