Tremendous uncertainty about H5N1 virus in future…: Possible pandemic concerns rise with largest bird flu outbreak

  • The potential for the virus to mutate and be transmissible from birds to humans is a significant concern, potentially leading to a pandemic.

Livemint
Updated12 Feb 2023, 05:42 PM IST
Bird flu has been a concern since the late 1990s.
Bird flu has been a concern since the late 1990s.(AFP)

The largest bird flu outbreaks in recorded history have health officials worried about the impact of the diseases and the possibility of transmission to humans. 

Dr. Jay Varma, director of Cornell University’s Center for Pandemic Prevention and Response, stated, as quoted by USA Today “There’s a tremendous amount of uncertainty about what is currently happening with bird flu and what might happen in the future”. The expert also noted that the virus seems to spread easily among different bird species, leading to a rapid die-off from the disease. Furthermore, H5N1 has been detected in various animals, including skunks, foxes, raccoons, bears, mountain lions, and dolphins, among others. 

Bird flu has been a concern among experts since the late 1990s. Currently, the strains causing the outbreak are avian influenza A (H5N1) 2.3.4.4b viruses, which first emerged in 2020 and spread to Africa, Asia, and Europe via migratory birds. However, in late 2021, the H5N1 strains crossed over to North America, leading to over 58 million chickens being affected in 47 states. Wild birds have also been infected, with nearly 6,200 cases reported this week.

Now, the potential for the virus to mutate and be transmissible from birds to humans is a significant concern, potentially leading to a pandemic. It is critical to remain cautious and vigilant, monitor the virus's spread and mutations, and take preventive measures to control the virus's spread.

Here are 10 things to know: 

  • Bird flu has been a concern since the late 1990s.
  • The current strains causing outbreaks are avian influenza A (H5N1) 2.3.4.4b viruses.
  • These strains emerged in 2020 and spread to Africa, Asia, and Europe via migratory birds.
  • The H5N1 strains crossed to North America in late 2021.
  • Over 58 million chickens have been affected in 47 states in the US, and wild birds have also been infected.
  • The virus seems to spread easily among different bird species.
  • H5N1 has been detected in various animals, including skunks, foxes, raccoons, bears, mountain lions, and dolphins.
  • An outbreak on a Spanish mink farm suggested that the virus may have adapted to mammal transmission, leading to the killing of over 51,000 minks.

 

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First Published:12 Feb 2023, 05:42 PM IST
HomeNewsworldTremendous uncertainty about H5N1 virus in future…: Possible pandemic concerns rise with largest bird flu outbreak

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