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Bird flu. WHO: Risk of transmitting H5N1 to humans is 'of great concern'

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The spread of the H5N1 strain of bird flu is a “cause for concern,” says WHO, pointing to its “exceptionally high” mortality rate among humans. And the recent cases of transmission of the virus to several species of mammals raise “huge concerns.”

Since the last bird flu epidemic broke out in 2020, tens of millions of poultry have been killed due to the disease. The spread of the H5N1 variant has also begun to be observed among mammalian species, including cats, foxes and sea lions. Last month, cows and goats were added to this list. Previously, they were considered species resistant to infection. Contact with infected animals later led to the transmission of the virus to one of the residents of Texas – reminds The Guardian.

Although no cases of transmission of the bird flu virus between humans have been observed so far, according to WHO Chief Scientist Jeremy Farrar, quoted by the WHO website, the spread of H5N1 between different mammalian species raises “huge concerns in this respect.” As he explained during Thursday's press conference in Geneva, “by infecting ducks and chickens, and then increasingly mammals, this virus is evolving and developing the ability to infect humans.” “It can then develop the ability to spread from person to person,” he added.

SEE ALSO: H5N1 virus linked to a mysterious disease in cats

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WHO expert on the possibilities of transmitting bird flu between humans

Jeremy Farrar referred to the cattle-to-human transmission of H5N1 that occurred in early April. – (The virus) affects the mammalian population, thus getting closer to humans. It is simply looking for new hosts, the scientist added. He also pointed out the need to monitor new cases of infections among humans more closely and to ensure that public health institutions around the world are able to effectively diagnose bird flu infections so that if human-to-human transmission is confirmed, they can “react immediately.”

Bird flu, illustration photoShutterstock

Speaking to journalists, Farrah justified the need to monitor the H5N1 variant, including: its “exceptionally high” mortality rate among humans. According to WHO data, from the beginning of 2003 to the end of March 2024, 888 people around the world were infected with it. Of these, 463 died.

SEE ALSO: Dead birds by the reservoir. The commune asks for caution. “Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus”

The Guardian, Telegraph, TVN24.pl

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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