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WHO Warns of Potential Bird Flu Pandemic: Should Humanity Be Concerned?

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WHO Warns of Potential Bird Flu Pandemic Should Humanity Be Concerned

(CTN News) – A worldwide Bird Flu avian influenza epidemic that is the worst ever seen is decimating wild and domestic bird populations.

There are increasing concerns that it might be harmful to people as well.

The World Health Organization’s Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus issued a warning on February 8 urging everyone to be ready for a potential bird flu pandemic. How concerned ought humanity to be?

Recent Transmission of H5N1: Cause for Concern?

The most recent transmission of the influenza virus subtype H5N1 from birds to mammals was the impetus for Dr. Tedros’ warning.

Peru has just reported the h5n1-related deaths of 585 sea lions. On a mink farm in Spain, an epidemic was identified in October. Foxes and otters in Britain have been proven to have the virus.

However, there is no indication from these occurrences that the virus will infect people. People often only get infected with h5n1 after touching birds since it is not well suited to infect mammals’ upper respiratory tracts.

However, the growing number of species that carry the illness indicates that the danger is growing. Dr. Tedros said there is little danger to people but cautioned that this may not always be the case.

Potential for Pandemic: Lessons from the 1918 Influenza Epidemic

Before COVID-19, it was commonly assumed that an influenza virus would be responsible for the subsequent human pandemic. About 50 million people died during the 1918 influenza epidemic, which was later shown to have avian-origin genes.

Additionally, flu pandemics struck in 1968, 2009, and 1957–1958. Although human occurrences of avian flu are uncommon, they may have very high fatality rates.

Following an epidemic in Asian poultry, avian flu claimed the lives of 860 humans in 1997, killing half of them.

It has not been shown that h5n1 spreads easily between people. But since the outbreak in 1997, the virus’s capacity to transfer from birds to people has changed due to its ongoing evolution.

It concerns how far it has already gone, especially in the Americas. Unexpected new virus varieties might emerge when it comes into contact with new bird and animal populations.

The mammal-to-mammal spread would be of special concern. The theory that the sea lions got the virus through dead, diseased seabirds rather than from each other has not yet been validated by experts.

Although the animals at the Spanish fur farm were killed and mammal-to-mammal transmission was believed to be exceedingly unusual, it seems that mink-to-mink infections happened there.

Challenges with Avian Bird Flu Vaccinations and Antiviral Medications

Existing avian flu vaccinations do not elicit a robust immune response. The majority are created using an old-fashioned technique that requires letting chicken eggs incubate the vaccinations.

This requires time. Dr. Tedros’ warning should pique interest in modernizing flu vaccine production and accumulating antiviral medications.

It could also lead to increased surveillance of the present epidemic to provide early notice of any new indications that h5n1 can transmit across animals. Alternatively, it may be acquiring the capacity to infect others.

The epidemic may be contained by killing contaminated animals and perhaps even immunizing certain flocks of domestic birds.

Foreseeing how viruses, such as the covid or influenza, will evolve is difficult. However, even if the dangers appear modest, the indicators of bird flu are concerning enough to call for preparation for the worst.

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Arsi Mughal is a staff writer at CTN News, delivering insightful and engaging content on a wide range of topics. With a knack for clear and concise writing, he crafts articles that resonate with readers. Arsi's pieces are well-researched, informative, and presented in a straightforward manner, making complex subjects accessible to a broad audience. His writing style strikes the perfect balance between professionalism and casual approachability, ensuring an enjoyable reading experience.

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