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Lateral flow tests being prepared for UK outbreaks of avian flu

British health officials are preparing plans to deploy lateral flow tests if signs emerge that avian flu has begun to spread from one person to another.

The programme would provide rapid information about the dangers posed by the disease.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is also working on blood tests to detect antibodies against the virus and officials will analyse the disease’s genetic mutations to reveal data about the increased risk to human health from avian flu.

The moves follow last week’s news that an 11-year-old girl in Cambodia has died from H5N1, the flu strain that is being spread around the globe by migrating birds and is infecting poultry farms.

At present, evidence suggests the H5N1 virus does not pass easily to people although scientists have urged care and caution. “The risk to humans is still very low, but it’s important that we continue to monitor circulation of flu in both bird and mammal populations", said Prof Jonathan Ball, of Nottingham University.

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Source: The Guardian, 26 February 2023


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