More and more experts are concerned about the worst outbreak of bird flu known. And it’s not because of the flu

They already are Three Americans Who has tested positive for Influenza A (H5N1) in recent days All of them were infected, presumably, on the cattle ranch where they worked. However, the last case is different: for the first time, it is not a simple positive.

Third patient has been Respiratory symptoms. And this is important.

Behind them are more than 250 million dead birds. The current lineage of this flu strain (H5N1) was detected for the first time A flock of geese in Canton, China in 1996. Since then, it hasn’t stopped causing problems. We are talking about a variant that is highly transmissible in poultry and can cause hemorrhagic disease with up to 40% mortality.

This is reflected in the latest official count. The latest count, at the end of last year, said more than 250 million dead birds. But there was probably more because, earlier in the year, we learned that the virus It has been going under the radar for months Among the large population of cows.

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Alarm voice. Partly because of the changing nature of the virus and partly because of changes in agricultural exploitation models, the disease began to worry experts because of its economic impact. Potential to influence people

As we learned during the Covid pandemic, The equation is simple: The more circulation, the more copies of the virus and the more interspecies jumps… the more likely some mutation will turn the flu into a public health problem for humans.

But the WHO has always been very quiet. As Sergio Ferrer pointed out, that despite everything the International considers that “the general risk to public health posed by A(H5N1) is low.” And, interestingly, the reason is just as simple.

That when it reaches a certain critical mass, it won’t happen if it hasn’t already. As bird flu continues to grow and zoonoses grow, the scientific community becomes concerned. But when the global outbreak reached such a large scale, the same scientists began to calm down. After so much circulation, copying and speciation, if the virus had not jumped into humans in an infectious way, because it was not something simple.

That patient from Texas is being seen It was spread through the eyes (Thanks to milk microdroplets in the environment) A good example is that the flu had difficulty moving through normal channels between humans. The Michigan case, which is similar, also confirms this. However, there are more factors to consider.

Do we have reason to worry? The question is complex. On the one hand, these three North American cases do not change the global analysis. nevertheless, As Maddie Bender points out at SlateWe are talking about three cases with strange and uncertain characteristics that happened at a great distance from each other.

This wouldn’t be a problem if we didn’t note that we learned very little from the pandemic. Despite the promise, investment in respiratory virus surveillance is not there or expected. Less than five years later, epidemiological organizations have not significantly improved their resources. And a good example of this is that H5N1 was circulating in the US for months. without anyone noticingPer.

Although the three North American cases are not an invitation to believe that “in many ways, we are facing the most important news in the world right now,” because Michael Orobe says A few months ago. Yes, it should reflect our limitations in a world full of threats.

Picture | Gabriella Claire Marino

In BDtechsupport | After 250 million birds died, the worst known bird flu has a new epicenter: Europe