Infectious Diseases 2022

Infectious Diseases 2022

A case of avian influenza in a person in the South West of England

6 January, 2022

This is clearly going to be big news but the key thing is that human infections with H5N1 are really rare (fewer than 1000 worldwide since 2003) and they almost always occur as a result of direct, long term contact with poultry. The case was detected by officials swabbing people who had close contact with infected flocks. Laboratory analysis revealed the virus was the 'H5N1' type found in birds. The person (79-year-old Alan Gosling, a retired engineer) acquired the infection from very close, regular contact with a large number of infected birds (ducks), which they kept in and around their home over a prolonged period of time.
Transfer of avian influenza to people is rare as it requires direct contact between an infected, usually dead, bird and the individual concerned. It is a risk for the handlers who are charged with the disposal of carcasses after an outbreak but the virus does not spread generally and poses little threat.