Several people have tested positive for bird flu in Great Britain
Four people in the UK have been diagnosed with H5N1 bird flu after the government launched a program to test people at risk of the disease.
Avian influenza is a more infectious version of the flu that primarily affects birds, but it can also occasionally infect humans. There are many strains of avian influenza virus, and most of them are not dangerous to humans.
However, in recent decades, four strains – H5N1, H7N9, H5N6 and H5N8 – have caused serious concern.
Although bird flu spreads rapidly and destroys bird colonies in the UK and Europe, it is generally difficult for people to catch. Some of the symptoms of bird flu include high fever, headache, cough and chest pain.
Rather than spreading the disease from person to person, human cases emerged when they had long-term contact with sick birds.
But after the infection was confirmed in more than two dozen cats in Poland, fears were raised that the virus might mutate. If the virus spreads among the animals we spend more time with, it could facilitate the infection and spread of humans.
According to the European Food Safety Authority, the current outbreak has been described as the largest ever in Europe.
Four cases were identified as part of a procedure launched in March 2023 that aims to identify potential animal-to-human diseases from people who handle sick birds.
The agency also said that as of July 10, 2023, a total of 144 individuals had been identified as a result of increased monitoring of poultry handlers at eight problem sites.
Mira ChandAnd the deputy director of the British Health Services Authority says that bird flu viruses do not spread quickly between people. He added that since we already know that the avian influenza virus can infect humans after direct contact with sick birds, surveillance programs such as this help track infected people and learn more about viruses.