Two more cases of bird flu among poultry workers in the UK have been confirmed by health officials.
The bird flu was detected as part of an asymptomatic testing programme. It involved testing farm staff, those involved in culling, and other health and safety staff members.
Since March, there have now been four confirmed cases of H5N1 bird flu which can be difficult to spot in humans, warns the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
A UK Health Security Agency spokesperson told the Mirror: “There have now been a total of four detections through this programme, which was launched in March and aims to detect possible animal to human infections in people who are exposed to infected birds.”
The UKHSA spokesperson said as of July 10, 144 individuals from eight infected premises had been tested through enhanced surveillance of poultry workers.
Dr Meera Chand, Deputy Director at UKHSA, said: “Current evidence suggests that the avian influenza viruses we’re seeing circulating in birds around the world do not spread easily to people.”
She added: “However, we know already that the virus can spread to people following close contact with infected birds and this is why, through surveillance programmes like this one, we are monitoring people who have been exposed to learn more about these risks.”
Anyone who becomes infected with bird flu is likely to develop symptoms quickly, according to the NHS.
The six earliest signs of infection include:
- Stomach pain
- Chest pain
- Bleeding from nose and gums
As the infection progresses, patients can develop a high fever, aching muscles, a cough, and headaches.
In worst-case scenarios, bird flu can lead to some severe complications, including pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome.
If you believe you are infected, you should call 111 and ask for medical services and also mention if you have been close to any animal carcasses. If you keep poultry or captive birds, you should report any suspected bird flu cases as soon as possible.
It is a notifiable disease, which means if you don’t report it, you are technically breaking the law.