The rare case of a person in the U.K. becoming infected with bird flu is no cause for broader public concern, according to scientific experts.
The U.K. Health Security Agency said Thursday that one person in southwest England contracted bird flu after having regular close contact with a large number of infected birds around their home.
“All contacts of the individual, including those who visited the premises, have been traced and there is no evidence of onward spread of the infection to anyone else. The individual is currently well and self-isolating. The risk to the wider public from avian flu continues to be very low,” the agency said in a statement.
Mike Tildesley, a professor in infectious disease modelling at the University of Warwick, said: “This is clearly going to be big news but the key thing is that human infections with H5N1 are really rare — fewer than 1000 worldwide since 2003 — and they almost always occur as a result of direct, long-term contact with poultry. It can result in a nasty infection for the individual concerned but there has never been any evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission of H5N1 so, at present, I wouldn’t consider this to be a significant public health risk.”
Avian flu of the H5N1 strain has been ripping through farms in the U.K., France and in Central and Eastern Europe over the past few months.
The French Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie said this week that up to 650,000 birds had been culled at 41 infection sites in the country.