Amid ‘largest bird flu outbreaks in recorded history’, will it be next pandemic?

Feb 12, 2023 05:18 PM IST

Bird Flu Outbreak: Currently, the strains causing outbreak are avian influenza A (H5N1) viruses.

Amid largest bird flu outbreaks in recorded history, health officials continue to worry about the impact of the diseases and whether it could transmit to humans, USA Today reported.

Bird Flu Outbreak: Birds are seen in Japan. (Reuters)
Bird Flu Outbreak: Birds are seen in Japan. (Reuters)

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“There’s a tremendous amount of uncertainty about what is currently happening with bird flu and what might happen in the future,” the report quoted Dr. Jay Varma, director of Cornell University’s Center for Pandemic Prevention and Response as saying.

Here's what you need to know about bird flu:

1. Bird flu has been on experts’ radar since the late 1990s.

2. Currently, the strains causing outbreak are avian influenza A (H5N1) viruses.

3. These first arose in 2020 and spread via migratory birds to Africa, Asia and Europe, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the report said.

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4. The H5N1 strains crossed to North America in late 2021.

5. The US Department of Agriculture reported that over 58 million chickens have been affected in 47 states and only this week nearly 6,200 wild birds have been infected.

6. Dr. Jay Varma said as per USA Today, “It seems like it spreads very easily among different bird species. You have so many different bird species that die off so rapidly from it."

7. So far, the USDA has detected H5N1 in various animals including skunks, foxes, raccoons, bears, mountain lions and dolphins, among others, the report said although most of the cases are individual in nature.

8. Although an outbreak on a Spanish mink farm suggested that the virus may have adapted to mammal transmission, the report claimed as minks began showing signs of infection including loss of appetite, hypersalivation, depression, bloody snout and tremors. More than 51,000 minks were killed to stem the spread of the infection.

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