Reading Time: 2 minutes It is 'extremely rare' for humans to transmit the virus Credit: Curioso Photography/Adobe
Reading Time: 2 minutes

For the very first time, a human case of the deadly H5N1 strain of avian bird flu has been reported in the UK. It comes as the country is experiencing the “largest-ever” outbreak in its history.

Just yesterday, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) reported that an individual in the South West of England had contracted the virus.

The person is reported to have had regular close contact with a large number of infected birds, the agency confirmed.

Human infected with bird flu

The UKSA states that bird-to-human transmissions of avian influenza have only occurred in the UK a “small number” of times.

Despite this, this week’s reportage remains the first human case of the H5N1 strain in the country. The wider world has witnessed more than 700 cases of its kind over the past decade.

While bird flu is transmittable to humans it is largely considered to be “extremely rare.” Moreover, human-to-human transmissions are “very rare.”

Symptoms include high temperatures, aching muscles, and shortness of breath. It can also lead to severe illnesses such as pneumonia, and even death.

But professor Isabel Oliver, who is chief scientific officer at UKHSA, assured that “robust” systems are in place to ensure the virus doesn’t spread to humans.

Many campaigners argue this isn’t enough, and a ban on factory farming should be implored to curb the risk.

Bird flu ‘crisis’

“Currently there is no evidence that this strain detected in the UK can spread from person to person, but we know that viruses evolve all the time and we continue to monitor the situation closely.

We have followed up all of this individual’s contacts and have not identified any onward spread,” Oliver said in a statement.

To get a handle on the breakout, officials have implored tight biosecurity measures. This involves limiting the movement of farmed birds and ensuring extra cleaning is undertaken.

And yet, the UKSA says it is seeing a growing number of cases.

For example, the deaths of thousands of chickens were recorded by campaigners on a farm in Lincolnshire this week.

Emily is a News and Features Writer for Plant Based News. She has previously worked as a journalist in Devon, UK, reporting on local issues from politics to the environment.