Bird Flu Infected Great Britain and Northern Ireland Residents

Avian Influenza A(H5N1) infections in humans in the UK in 2023
Bird flu cases 2023
GOV.UK Avian Influenza Detections 2023
United Kingdom (Vax Before Travel)

The World Health Organization (WHO) today announced that in mid-May 2023, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland reported the detection of avian influenza A(H5) virus in a poultry worker at a farm in England where poultry was infected with high pathogenicity avian influenza (HPAI) A(H5N1) viruses.

Another detection was reported in a second individual performing culling operations on the farm.

As of May 16, 2023, both cases were asymptomatic and detected in an ongoing enhanced surveillance study of asymptomatic workers exposed to poultry infected with avian influenza.

As of May 30, 2023, the United Kingdom Health Security Agency has not detected evidence of human-to-human transmission.

Based on the available information, WHO considers these as sporadic detections of avian influenza viruses among humans with no evidence of person-to-person transmission to date.

Thus, based on the available information, the WHO assesses low risk for the general population posed by this virus. For occupationally exposed persons, it is low to moderate. 

The WHO recommends that all people working with poultry or birds should have a seasonal influenza vaccination to reduce the risk of potential recombination events.

However, flu shots are not designed to protect people from HAPI viruses or pandemic influenza.

The bird flu outbreaks are mainly located in areas of the Pacific Flyway. 

Additionally, the WHO says travelers to countries with known outbreaks of animal influenza should avoid farms, contact with animals in live animal markets, entering areas where animals may be slaughtered, or contact with any surfaces that appear to be contaminated with animal feces. 

The World Organization for Animal Health reported in May 2023 the current HPAI epidemic season continues, with 48 outbreaks reported in poultry and 33 in non-poultry birds over the last three weeks, mainly in Europe, the Americas, and Asia. 

In summary, the WHO does not recommend any travel and/or trade restrictions for the U.K. based on available information on this event.

Our Trust Standards: Medical Advisory Committee