A further two poultry workers have tested positive for avian influenza. Both people were asymptomatic and the results were detected through the UK Health Security Agency’s (UKHSA) surveillance programme.
In its latest technical briefing, the UKHSA said the cases were in individuals with direct exposure to infected birds.
Precautionary contact tracing was undertaken, but there is still no evidence of human-to-human transmission and these findings do not change the assessment of human health risk.
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. As of 10 July 2023, 144 individuals from 8 infected premises have been tested through enhanced surveillance of poultry workers.
“Current evidence suggests that the avian influenza viruses we’re seeing circulating in birds around the world do not spread easily to people,” said Dr Meera Chand, director of clinical and emerging infections at UKHSA.
“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.
“These detections can follow contamination of the nose and throat from breathing in material from the environment, or can be due to infection. It can be difficult to distinguish these in people who have no symptoms. Following any detection, we will immediately initiate the appropriate public health response.”