The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has confirmed that bird flu has been detected in two poultry workers in England.
The cases appear to stem from the same poultry farm, with the two workers coming into contact with sick birds. The UKHSA has said that the cases have shown no signs of human-to-human transmissions.
Neither worker has suffered symptoms of the infection. The H5 virus was detected in both cases after routine screening as part of a UKHSA programme.
The asymptomatic screening programme conducted by the UKHSA sees poultry workers across the country routinely tested via nose swab. In some cases, blood tests are also taken.
Experts believed that the first person to have the virus detected may have inhaled the virus while working. The source of the second case has not yet been determined, and it has not been confirmed whether they were truly infected or inhaled during the work day, with precautionary contact testing taking place.
Both workers have now began to test negative for bird flu. Further investigation is underway by the UKHSA.
Professor Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser at the UKHSA, said that the the influenza virus seen in birds has not been easily transmitted to humans, but that it is possible that it can be detected after coming into contact with sick and infected birds.
She added: “Globally, there is no evidence of spread of this strain from person to person, but we know that viruses evolve all the time and we remain vigilant for any evidence of changing risk to the population. It remains critical that people avoid touching sick or dead birds and that they follow the Defra advice about reporting.”
The agency added that the risk to humans remains low. The H5N1 strain of the virus is the most prevalent strain in the UK.