Risk of AI infections in humans low, says KCDC

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Risk of AI infections in humans low, says KCDC

Korean health authorities said Tuesday that there is very low risk that the avian influenza (AI) virus strain in the country will infect humans.

The H5N6 strain of AI is not very contagious when it comes to people, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said. Korea has yet to report any human infection of the flu.

The announcement comes as the country has struggled to contain the animal disease for nearly three months.

The KCDC said it intentionally infected a weasel with the H5N6 strain isolated from birds and concluded that the virus does not cause other animals to get sick. Weasels have a very similar respiratory system to humans.

Authorities said the viral strain discovered in the country does not seem to spread by air in the case of humans and does not seem to be transmitted even through direct contact.

Local experts said that based on findings, the local H5N6 virus strain and the H5N8 and H7N9 strains detected in some parts of the country are unlikely to cause health problems. They, however, said both the H5N6 and the H7N9 types have been known to affect humans.

The KCDC pointed out there is still a possibility of the strain being brought into the country through travelers or birds by April and said it will closely monitor the possible inflow of the disease and check people who show any symptoms. Yonhap

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