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H5N8 Strain of bird flu virus-1st to infect humans in Russia

  • Be N By IAS, Delhi
  • 02, Mar 2021
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For : GS-3: Science & Technology


  • Russia has reported the world's first case of a strain of bird flu virus that has infected humans via birds. The outbreak of the H5N8 strain has been reported to the World Health Organization (WHO).


  • Earliest known outbreaks of the H5N8 virus strain was reported in Ireland in 1983.
  • About 8,000 turkeys, 28,020 chickens, and 270,000 ducks had to be culled to curb the spread of the infection.

H5N8 Strain:

  • The strain is a subtype of the influenza A virus that causes flu-like symptoms in wild birds and poultry.
  • It poses a low risk to people, but it is fatal for birds.
  • India: This was found in crows in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Until recently, it was not known to have affected humans.


  • Seven workers at a poultry plant in Russia's south were infected with the H5N8 strain after an outbreak in birds in December last year.
  • "Preliminary information indicates that the reported cases were workers exposed to bird flocks." They were asymptomatic and no onward human to human transmission was reported.
  • Workers did not suffer any serious health consequences.
  • According to initial reports, the H5N8 strain is not lethal for humans.
  • Before this incidence, H5N8 was largely believed to be restricted to birds and poultry.


According to the WHO, people usually get infected through direct contact with animals or contaminated environments, and there is no sustained transmission among humans.

Properly cooked meat or poultry and boiled eggs are considered to be safe for human consumption by the ministry of fisheries, animal husbandry and dairying.

Bird Flu:

  • Disease type: Bird flu is a highly infectious and severe respiratory disease in birds.
  • Virus: It is caused by the virus
  • Human infection: It can occasionally infect humans as well, although human-to-human transmission is unusual, according to the World Health Organisation.
  • No transmission through cooking: Through food prepared and cooked properly as the virus is sensitive to heat, and dies in cooking temperatures.
  • Types: Influenza viruses are grouped into three types; A, B, and C. Only type A is known to infect animals and is zoonotic. meaning it can infect animals and also humans. Type B and C mostly infect humans and typically cause mild disease.
  • Sub type: Include A(H5N1), A(H7N9), and A(H9N2).
  • Classification: Into subtypes based on two surface proteins,
    • Hemagglutinin (HA) and
    • Neuraminidase (NA)
  • In 2019, India was declared free from Avian Influenza (H5N1), which had also been notified to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).



Q. Consider the following statements regarding Bird flu.

  1. Bird flu is a highly infectious and severe respiratory disease in birds.
  2. There is no animal to human transmission in bird flu.
  3. In 2019, India was declared free from Avian Influenza (H5N1).

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

  • a) Only 1 and 2
  • b) Only 2 and 3
  • c) Only 3 and 1
  • d) 1, 2 and 3