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Human cases of Avian Influenza A(H5N8) in Russia

26 Feb 2021

On 26th February 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported detection of avian influenza A(H5N8) in 7 farm workers who were responding to an outbreak of avian influenza A(H5N8) in birds on a poultry farm in Astrakhan Oblast in Russia. All 7 cases were asymptomatic, and remained so throughout the medical observation period.

These are the first reported detection of avian influenza A(H5N8) in humans. The WHO advise that based on currently available information, the risk of human-to-human transmission remains low.

Advice for Travellers

Avian influenza (bird flu) is an influenza virus that spreads among birds. Rarely, the virus can spread to people who have had close contact with infected birds.

If you are travellling to a country where avian influenza has caused human disease, you should be aware of the potential risk of infection.

In particular, you should avoid contact with:

  • live poultry (chickens, ducks, geese, pigeons, quail) or any wild birds
  • surfaces that may be contaminated with poultry/bird droppings
  • commercial poultry farms, backyard poultry farms and live poultry markets
  • sick or dead poultry and birds

Care should be taken if you are handling raw or undercooked poultry products. You should:

  • Maintain strict hand hygiene; particularly when preparing food, and before meals.
  • Practise good respiratory hygiene measures and avoid close contact with people who appear unwell.
  • Seek medical advice if you develop respiratory/influenza-like symptoms during or after returning from countries where avian influenza has been reported.

See the fitfortravel Avian Influenza and Avian Influenza travel advice pages for further information.