Two poultry workers test positive for bird flu after contact on infected farm


Bird flu has been detected in two poultry workers after they came into contact with infected birds, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said.

The two workers have recently worked on an infected poultry farm in England.

Neither have experienced any symptoms of bird flu and have tested negative since.

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Two people in UK diagnosed with bird flu

The flu was detected in the workers after they took tests for asymptomatic people who had been in contact with infected birds.

Bird flu detected in humans can either be true infection or can come after the nose and throat is contaminated when breathing in materials on the affected farm.

Based on the timing of exposures and test results, one of the workers infected is likely to have had contamination after inhaling materials on the farm.

It is unclear in the second person’s case if he also was contaminated after inhalation or whether he was infected.

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Further investigation is underway but precautionary contact tracing has been undertaken for this second individual.

The UKHSA said they have not detected evidence of human-to-human transmission.

Signs near Eccles in Norfolk, as all of Norfolk and Suffolk, and parts of Essex, became the latest areas to be placed in an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ). Picture date: Tuesday October 4, 2022.
Signs near Eccles in Norfolk, as all of Norfolk and Suffolk, and parts of Essex, were placed in a Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) last year

The level of risk to human health has not changed after the detection of bird flu and remains very low to the general population.

Professor Susan Hopkins, chief medical advisor 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.

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“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,” she said.

Read more: Chilean man’s bird flu infection has ‘concerning’ mutations

“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.”

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