EU Warns of Potential Bird Flu Pandemic

Society » HEALTH | April 4, 2024, Thursday // 09:10
Bulgaria: EU Warns of Potential Bird Flu Pandemic

The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) issued a stark warning regarding the looming threat of a large-scale bird flu pandemic, underscoring the potential consequences if the virus were to transition to humans and establish human-to-human transmission. The agency's cautionary statement comes in the wake of alarming reports from Texas, where the H5N1 strain of bird flu was detected in an individual with contact history with infected dairy cows.

While human immunity to the virus remains absent, EFSA's concerns are amplified by the virus's geographical spread, encompassing regions as remote as Antarctica, and its ability to infect a widening array of mammals. Despite lower-than-usual bird flu outbreak numbers, the evolving nature of the virus poses an escalating risk, raising fears of heightened threats to human health and poultry industries worldwide.

Notably, EFSA highlights the potential for avian influenza A(H5N1) viruses to mutate and acquire efficient human-to-human transmission capabilities, underscoring the urgent need for heightened vigilance and preventive measures. The agency emphasizes the critical role of enhanced surveillance, rapid diagnostics, and collaborative efforts between animal and human sectors in combating the pandemic threat.

With 887 reported human cases of bird flu in the past year, resulting in a staggering 52% mortality rate, EFSA underscores the necessity of proactive measures to mitigate transmission risks. Direct contact with infected poultry, involvement in live bird markets, and exposure to contaminated environments emerge as primary risk factors for human infection.

Moreover, EFSA underscores the potential role of wild mammals, including pets like cats, as intermediaries in virus transmission between wild birds, domestic animals, and humans. The agency calls for comprehensive surveillance strategies and the implementation of preventive measures such as vaccination to curb the spread of the virus.

France's proactive approach in organizing large-scale vaccination campaigns for farmed birds serves as a notable example of preemptive measures adopted to contain the threat posed by bird flu. However, EFSA advocates for broader international cooperation and concerted efforts to combat the evolving pandemic risk posed by avian influenza.

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Tags: EU, bird flu, pandemic, transmission

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