Avian influenza is primarily a disease of birds and infection in people is rare even in people who are directly exposed to the virus. There are many different subtypes of the avian influenza virus and each differs in its ability to cause disease in birds and people. Virus subtype is going to be confirmed later today but is not an N1 subtype that is known to be associated with serious human infection.
Evidence from past outbreaks of avian influenza shows that only people who have handled or have been in very close contact with infected birds are most at risk of getting avian influenza. Even then the risk is very low. Person to person transmission has been documented on rare occasions but only after prolonged and close contact.
If you have a patient who presents with febrile symptoms or other unexplained illness and who has recently handled a dead or sick bird in the area please contact the PHE North Yorkshire and Humber Health Protection team on 01904 687100 who will be able to give you further advice about patient management. You should pay particular attention to anyone who may have been involved in the response to the incident (eg catching, culling, etc on the infected premises).
All those associated with the incident who might have been at risk of exposure to the virus will be offered appropriate antiviral medicine and seasonal influenza vaccine through Humber NHS Foundation Trust as the local provider for this specific incident type.
If you wish to clarify any issues please contact the health protection team on the above number.
Information about avian influenza is available on the PHE website https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/avian-influenza-guidance-data-and-analysis and Defra www.defra.gov.uk websites.
Produced by Public Health England, 17 November 2014