A few days ago, Russia has reported the first known human infection of the H5n8 avian flu. At the moment, the World Health Organization is gathering up more information regarding the infection. For the knowledge of the public, the Avian flu is not a new disease. It has been a recurring illness in birds for the past half-century. However, for the length that it has existed, this is the first time in the world that a human was infected with this specific strain of the virus.
With barely any signs of turning over a new leaf with the current pandemic, people are worried if this finding could cause an outbreak of a new disease. Should we all be afraid? Should we brace for another pandemic?
Russia reports the first case of H5N8 in humans
According to the health ministry of Russia, they have initially reported the findings to the World Health Organization several days before the public announcement. For reasons that they had to make further observations to solidify and completely confirm the infection. It has been discovered, just like other avian flu strains before it, the H5N8 virus can be transmitted to humans but with difficulty. Transmission can easily be prevented with proper care. The rate of infection is lower compared to the Coronavirus.
Avian flu is also not new in humans. Infections from a different strain known as the H5N1 were first detected in humans back in 1997. All in all, less than 500 people were infected with the H5N1 virus and cases have depleted since. No cases have been reported for the H5N1 virus infection since 2017.
Will it be as bad as the corona?
Based on research (for many types of influenza cases), the rate of infection is higher compared to the coronavirus. This means that the flu can spread faster than COVID-19 and can easily target children, the elderly, pregnant women, and other immunosuppressed individuals. However, this is not much cause for concern. One of the main differences between the Coronavirus infection and influenza is the fact that multiple vaccines already exist for the latter. Although the rate of infection is faster, getting vaccinated on a yearly basis can significantly reduce the chances of getting infected with the flu.
Precautions for the H5n8
The World Health Organization has assessed that the threats of H5N8 to humans are very low. Regardless, proper precaution must still be observed for increased success in combating the disease. Here are some of the precautions for Avian Flu:
- Cooking fowl meat thoroughly and adequately before consuming can break down the virus
- Avoid constant contact with live poultry
- Wash hands with soap and water, especially when handling raw poultry