Europe faces the greatest bird flu epidemic of its historywhich started around the same time as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although there are several types of avian influenza, the H5N1 virus is one of the most dangerous and lethal, with a mortality rate of 50%.
Although fewer than 10 cases of the new H5N1 strain have been reported in humans, the Researchers warn that if this lineage were to find a way to spread between people, the effects could be catastrophic..
For now, the risk is low, and all people infected so far have had close contact with wild birds.
From the beginning of October 2021 to the beginning of October 2022, 6,615 cases of bird flu were detected in animals in 37 countries, and this year alone, since October 2022, researchers have observed a total of 2,701 cases.
The largest outbreaks have been in poultry farms and in mammalian species such as mink, badgers, pigs, and bears.
Although the mortality rate in humans is high, bird flu does not spread easily from person to person.and the health authorities indicate that most of those infected have had close contact with sick birds.
The adaptation of the H5N1 virus to mammals is a “red flag” for researchers, as this would increase its ability to spread in the human population.
Proof of the spread of the virus among mammals would present a “red flag” that the virus is changing in ways that are of more concern.
On the other hand, experts say that if the virus shows any suggestion of adaptation to mammals, its ability to spread in a mammalian host would be one step closer to having biological characteristics that would make it more attractive to spread in the human population.
Lastly, sick birds also mean higher food prices, as producers have to cull large numbers of birds to prevent the spread of the virus.
Experts point out that it is important that health authorities and poultry producers work together to minimize the impact of bird flu and protect public health and food safety.
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