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expert reaction to UKHSA statement on two additional detections of avian flu in poultry workers

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) have published their latest technical briefing on avian influenza, reporting on 2 additional asymptomatic human detections of influenza A (H5N1) picked up through their surveillance programme.


Prof Paul Wigley, Professor of Animal Microbial Ecosystems, School of Veterinary Science, University of Bristol, said:

“Infection with avian influenza (H5N1) is a risk for poultry workers who have a high levels of exposure.  The good news here is that if these were cases of infection, it was asymptomatic and detected through UKHSA’s testing programme. This suggests that the current H5N1 strain remains a low risk for infection into humans with no evidence of human-to-human transmission.  It does however illustrate that H5N1 is still in circulation in UK poultry and the need remains to maintain proactive surveillance in birds and those in close and frequent contact with poultry.”


Prof Ian Brown, Director of Scientific Services, Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), said:

“The UK is conducting an intensive tracking programme. It is likely that this programme will continue to find human specimens contaminated (due to exposure pathways such as via contaminated dust when proper PPE is not used) via the environment without signalling active infection, which is a possibility in these most recent cases.”



Declared interests

Prof Ian Brown: “I work for APHA acting as a national and international reference centre for avian influenza. I currently lead a GB research consortium addressing gaps in scientific knowledge.”

For all other experts, no reply to our request for DOIs was received.

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