As COVID-19 winds down, the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued another warning that countries should prepare for the possibility of another pandemic caused by H5N1.
This comes after cases of the virus strain jumping from birds to mammals were reported.
“Over the past few weeks, there have been several reports of mammals, including minks, otters, foxes, and sea lions, having been infected with H5N1 avian influenza,” said WHO’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a media briefing on global health issues Tuesday.
“H5N1 has spread widely in wild birds and poultry for 25 years, but the recent spillover to mammals needs to be monitored closely. For the moment, WHO assesses the risk to humans as low,” he added.
According to Tedros, they have only seen “rare and non-sustained transmission of H5N1 to and between humans” since H5N1 first emerged in 1996.
“But we cannot assume that will remain the case, and we must prepare for any change in the status quo. As always, people are advised not to touch or collect dead or sick wild animals, but to report them to the local authorities,” he continued.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is working with national authorities and partners to track the situation and investigate any human cases of H5N1 infection when they arise.
“WHO’s global laboratory network, the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System, identifies and monitors strains of circulating influenza viruses, and provides advice to countries on their risk to human health and available treatment or control measures,” Tedros said.
WHO urged countries to “strengthen surveillance in settings where humans and farmed or wild animals interact.”
According to Tedros, WHO is maintaining dialogue with pharmaceutical companies to ensure that sufficient vaccine and antiviral supplies are on hand for widespread distribution should they be required.
Watch the video:
NEW – WHO’s Tedros says we “must prepare” for a potential H5N1 human bird flu pandemic. pic.twitter.com/4Y3asCMN9S
— Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) February 9, 2023
According to CDC, highly pathogenic avian influenza HPAI A(H5N1) viruses have been detected in U.S. wild aquatic birds, commercial poultry and backyard or hobbyist flocks beginning in January 2022.
47 states, 380 counties, and 755 reported outbreaks. Daily Mail reported that US has faced major bird flu outbreak this year “with more than 58million poultry affected across nearly every state in the country and 6,100 in wild birds.”
But in 2022, according to CDC, the first case of an avian influenza A (H5N1) virus in a person in the U.S. was reported on April 28, 2022.
The agency wrote:
A person has tested positive for avian influenza A(H5) virus (H5 bird flu) in the U.S., as reported by Colorado and confirmed by CDC. This case occurred in a person who had direct exposure to poultry and was involved in the culling (depopulating) of poultry with presumptive H5N1 bird flu. The patient reported fatigue for a few days as their only symptom and has since recovered. The patient is being isolated and treated with the influenza antiviral drug oseltamivir. While it is possible the detection of H5 bird flu in this specimen is a result of surface contamination of the nasal membrane, that can’t be determined at this point and the positive test result meets the criteria for an H5 case. The appropriate public health response at this time is to assume this is an infection and take actions to contain and treat.
This case does not change the human risk assessment for the general public, which CDC considers to be low. However, people who have job-related or recreational exposures to infected birds are at higher risk of infection should take appropriate precautions outlined in CDC guidance.
Another fearmongering by WHO.
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