Russia said on Saturday that its scientists had found the first case of transmission of the H5N8 bird flu virus to humans and that it has also reported it to the World Health Organization.
In a televised interview, the head of the Russian health department, Rospotrebnadzor, Anna Popova, said scientists at the Vektor laboratory had isolated the gene from seven workers on a poultry farm in southern Russia, where an outbreak of birds broke out in December.
Employees did not experience any adverse health effects, he added.
Popova said that the Information on the world’s first case of human bird flu (H5N8) has been submitted to the World Health Organization.
There are different types of bird flu viruses.
While the highly infectious species H5N8 kills birds it has never been reported to have spread to humans.
Popova praised the important scientific discoveries saying that time will tell if the virus would continue to mutate.
Popova also said that the discovery of these mutations when the virus has not yet received the ability to transmit from person to person gives us all, globally, time to prepare for genetic mutations and respond appropriately and in a timely manner.
Humans can be infected with bird flu and swine flu viruses, such as bird flu subtypes A (H5N1) and A (H7N9) and swine flu subtypes such as A (H1N1).
According to the WHO, humans are more likely to become infected through direct contact with animals or contaminated areas, and there is no ongoing transmission to humans.
H5N1 in humans can cause serious infections and has a mortality rate of 60 percent.
Top secret lab is located in Koltsovo outside the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, the Vektor State Virology and Biotechnology Center developed one of Russia’s many coronavirus vaccines.
In Soviet times the most secretive lab undertook the study of secret weapons and still kept viruses from Ebola to smallpox.
Speaking on television, Vektor’s head, Rinat Maksyutov, said the lab was ready to start testing tests that would help identify potential H5N8 patients in humans and start vaccinating.
The Soviet Union was a scientific powerhouse and Russia wanted to play a leading role in vaccine research under President Vladimir Putin.
Russia registered the coronavirus Sputnik V vaccine in August, months before Western rivals and before major clinical trials.
After initial skepticism in the West, the Lancet magazine this month published results showing that the Russian vaccine – named after the Soviet era satellite – is safe and effective.
Avian flu has hit several European countries, including France, where hundreds of thousands of birds have joined forces to control the disease.