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Bird Flu Transmission: A Call for Pandemic Preparedness

USA 08.04.2024
Source: The DairyNews
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The recent case of bird flu transmission from dairy cattle to a farm worker in Texas has raised concerns, prompting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue a health alert.
Bird Flu Transmission: A Call for Pandemic Preparedness
Although this is the second human case in the US, the virus strain involved is not easily transmissible between humans, alleviating immediate pandemic concerns. Nonetheless, the incident highlights significant developments in the spread of avian influenza.

Background on avian flu reveals two types: highly pathogenic and low pathogenic, with H5N1 belonging to the former category. Originating in 1997, H5N1 has periodically caused epidemics in poultry, with sporadic human cases. The recent variant, H5N1 clade, has seen unprecedented escalation since 2021, spreading globally and infecting various mammalian species beyond traditional carriers like waterfowl.

Symptoms of H5N1 infection in humans vary, with recent cases demonstrating severe respiratory illness alongside neurological complications. While the Texan farm worker exhibited mild symptoms like conjunctivitis, previous cases have shown potentially fatal outcomes.

The main risk factor for human infection remains close contact with sick poultry, as seen in the recent case involving dairy cattle. While pasteurized milk and well-cooked eggs are considered safe, mishandling of infected meat or eggs poses risks. Although there's no H5N1 in Australian poultry or cattle, maintaining hygienic food practices is advisable.

Despite the absence of immediate pandemic risk, persistent infection with H5N1 in various species raises concerns for potential mutation and pandemic emergence. Early detection through surveillance and prompt response are crucial in preventing pandemics. While bird vaccines exist, their efficacy and potential masking of outbreaks have limited their use. However, recent developments in poultry vaccination highlight evolving strategies to mitigate risks.

To mitigate pandemic risks, understanding the virus's spread across species and monitoring for outbreaks in animals and humans are paramount. Additionally, ensuring economic compensation for farmers encourages timely reporting and helps safeguard the food supply.
Andrey Dykun
Andrey Dykun
"All-Ukrainian agrarian Council" / Ukrainian Agri Council. Charitable foundation SaveUA.in.Ua
I recently wrote about a conference where the results of the joint project of the All-Ukrainian Agrarian Council (VAR) with the USAID AGRO Program were summarized. Today, as a result of this event, the All-Ukrainian Agrarian Council, on behalf of the agrarians affected by the war, appealed to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine with a request to support the agricultural sector in the occupied and frontline regions.
Torsten Hemme, Founder & Chairman, Dairy expert
Torsten Hemme, Founder & Chairman, Dairy expert