A new bird flu pandemic is feared as top virologists raise the alarm over a ‘worrying’ spread

A new bird flu pandemic is feared as top virologists raise the alarm over a ‘worrying’ spread

A new bird flu pandemic is feared as top virologists raise the alarm over a ‘worrying’ spread

Fears of potentially devastating bird flu The pandemic has intensified today after a ‘worrying’ outbreak among rabbits.

Top virologists from around the world sounded the alarm after tests confirmed that the H5N1 strain was spreading among mammals.

This raises the possibility that the pathogen could acquire problematic mutations that would allow it to spread much more easily among humans, helping it to clear itself. the biggest obstacle that prevented him from taking over the world.

One virus-tracking scientist described the H5N1 strain, discovered in Spainas similar to one deliberately made to better infect humans in controversial ‘enhancement of function’ laboratory experiments.

A new bird flu pandemic is feared as top virologists raise the alarm over a ‘worrying’ spread

Top virologists from around the world sounded the alarm after tests confirmed that the H5N1 strain was spreading among martens (pictured). The outbreak occurred at a farm in Galicia, northwestern Spain, in October that housed 52,000 animals

Alan Gosling (pictured), a retired engineer from Devon, contracted the virus after his ducks, some of which lived in his home, became infected.  No one else caught the virus

Alan Gosling (pictured), a retired engineer from Devon, contracted the virus after his ducks, some of which lived in his home, became infected. No one else caught the virus

Bird flu outbreak: Everything you need to know

What is it?

Bird flu is a contagious type of flu that spreads among birds.

In rare cases, it can be transmitted to humans through close contact with a dead or live infected bird.

This includes touching infected birds, their droppings or litter. People can also get bird flu if they kill or prepare infected poultry for food.

Wild birds are carriers, especially by migration.

As they gather to reproduce, the virus spreads rapidly and is then carried to other parts of the world.

New species usually first appear in Asia, from where more than 60 species of shorebirds, waterfowl and waterfowl travel to Alaska to breed and mix with migratory birds from the US. Others go west and infect European species.

What strain is currently spreading?

H5N1.

So far, the new virus has been detected in about 80 million birds and poultry worldwide as of September 2021 — double the previous record the year before.

Not only is the virus spreading at a high rate, but it is killing at an unprecedented rate, which is why some experts have said that this is the deadliest variant yet.

Millions of chickens and turkeys in the UK have been destroyed or quarantined, affecting the availability of free-range Christmas turkey and eggs.

Can it infect people?

Yes, but only 860 human cases have been reported to the World Health Organization since 2003.

The risk to humans is considered ‘low’.

But people are strongly urged not to touch sick or dead birds because the virus is deadly, killing 56 percent of people it infects.

Professor Rupert Beale, an expert in immunology at the world-renowned Francis Crick Institute in London, said: ‘We should already have vaccine contingency plans.’

Professor Isabella Eckerle, a virologist at the Center for Emerging Viral Diseases at the University of Geneva, called the findings ‘truly worrying’.

Other experts have warned that outbreaks among martens could lead to recombination — when two viruses swap genetic material to make a new hybrid.

A similar process is thought to have caused the 2009 global swine flu crisis that infected millions across the planet.

The same biological phenomenon was seen during the Covid pandemic, such as the so-called Deltacron — a recombination of Delta and Omicron, first discovered in France last February.

For decades, scientists have warned that bird flu is the most likely candidate to trigger the next pandemic.

Experts say this is due to the threat of recombination – with high levels of human flu strains increasing the risk of humans contracting bird flu as well.

This could lead to the merging of a deadly strain of bird flu with a transmissible seasonal flu.

The mink outbreak occurred in October on a farm in Galicia, in northwestern Spain, where 52,000 animals were housed.

It was noticed only after a sudden increase in animal deaths. Up to four percent died in a single week during the epidemic, which was declared over by mid-November.

Veterinarians from the farm took swabs from the minks, and the samples were analyzed in a government laboratory, where they tested positive for H5N1.

This led to the destruction of all animals, the isolation of farm workers for 10 days and increased security measures on farms across the country.

This includes wearing face masks and disposable coveralls and showering before leaving the premises.

Analysis of the samples taken, which was published yesterday in the journal Infectious disease Euronadzorshow that the virus has acquired nearly a dozen mutations – most of which have never or rarely been seen before in bird flu strains.

One was previously seen on the virus behind the 2009 global swine flu pandemic.

Scientists examining the samples believe it caused an outbreak of H5N1 among seabirds in a nearby province.

Great Britain saw a record number of bird flu cases last winter.  Levels usually fall in the spring and summer, but the outbreak continued beyond its usual endpoint.  Almost 300 confirmed cases of H5N1 have been detected among birds in England since the current outbreak began in October 2021. However, the true toll is thought to be much higher

Great Britain saw a record number of bird flu cases last winter. Levels usually fall in the spring and summer, but the outbreak continued beyond its usual endpoint. Almost 300 confirmed cases of H5N1 have been detected among birds in England since the current outbreak began in October 2021. However, the true toll is thought to be much higher

A report by experts from Spain’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, along with some from the Council for Rural Affairs, says this is the first time H5N1 has spread among martens in Europe.

They warned that rabbits could act as a ‘potential mixing bowl’ for the transmission of H5N1 between birds, mammals and humans — for example by recombining the strain with human flu viruses, which can infect humans.

Enhanced biosecurity measures on mink farms and enhanced surveillance are needed to limit any risk of transmission to humans, the report warns.

Professor Francois Balloux, an infectious disease expert at the University of London, said: ‘The sequenced genomes carry several rare or previously unreported mutations, possibly acquired after mink-to-mink transmission.

‘Avian influenza AH5N1 can infect a number of carnivores and sometimes humans. Small clusters have been reported in humans, but human-to-human transmission remains inefficient.

‘Such outbreaks of bird flu on marten farms are highly suboptimal as they create natural “transmission experiments” into the mammalian host, which could lead to the virus developing greater transmissibility in mammals.’

dr. Jeremy Ratcliff, a senior scientist at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland, said there was no need to panic about the outbreak because it ended two months ago.

“However, the fact that H5N1 can successfully adapt to transmission between mammals is a general concern,” he added.

Other virologists online have warned that the mutated version of H5N1 is similar to one engineered in the lab to better infect mammals.

They pointed to one controversial experiment by Dutch scientist Ron Fouchier that involved tweaking H5N1 to better infect ferrets.

The results have sparked controversy among the scientific community and security agencies over concerns that they could be used to create biological weapons.

The findings showed that a version that could infect mammals could be achieved with just a few tweaks to the virus.

The US National Science Advisory Board on Biosafety requested that some parts of the findings not be published – but eventually allowed the findings to be published in the journals Nature and Science.

Proponents of these so-called ‘gain-of-function’ tests argue that they can help prepare for a pandemic by revealing how viruses can mutate, allowing scientists to develop drugs and vaccines that work against them.

But critics argue that the experiments could trigger an outbreak if the virus accidentally leaked out of the lab, which is how some scientists believe the Covid pandemic started.

Great Britain saw a record number of bird flu cases last winter. Levels usually fall in the spring and summer, but the outbreak continued beyond its usual endpoint.

Almost 300 confirmed cases of H5N1 have been detected among birds in England since the current outbreak began in October 2021. However, the true toll is thought to be much higher.

A year ago, the UK recorded its first human case of H5N1.

Alan Gosling, a retired engineer from Devon, contracted the virus after his ducks, some of which lived in his house, became infected. No one else caught the virus.

The virus struggles to take hold of human cells, unlike seasonal flu, scientists say. As a result, it usually cannot penetrate them and cause infection.

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