Avian flu is spreading around the world. Why is it bad?

Viruses are all around us. They are part of wildlife, although they can not be called fully alive. The controversy in academia continues to this day and is based on an interesting fact – viruses cannot reproduce outside of living cells. And they do not have all the signs of living beings, so they can not be attributed to this category. But whatever their nature, viruses keep us in fear and two years of pandemic have proven it. And while we are struggling with the new coronavirus, nature is doing its part. Thus, at the end of 2021, millions of chickens in many countries of the world fell victim to the H5N1 flu virus. The disease is accompanied by damage to the respiratory and digestive organs and the mortality is about 56%. There are currently no confirmed cases of avian influenza in humans, but experts are very concerned. Why;

Avian influenza is an acute infectious, particularly dangerous disease transmitted to humans by animals, the causative agent of which is a type A virus.

Avian flu

The so-called bird flu (bird flu) has plagued birds for a long time, but it was only possible to isolate the virus in 1878. Before that, it spread naturally in nature, affecting not only wild birds but also others. animal species. But it is one thing to spread in nature and another thing – in poultry farms.

For a long time, it was believed that bird flu could not be transmitted to humans. But in 1997, the first cases of infection appeared in Hong Kong. Since then, a large number of outbreaks have been reported in various parts of the world. In fact, the spread of H5N1 bird flu among various species, including humans, could lead to a pandemic.

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Eggs and poultry are prohibited from being exported from the affected areas.

Infected birds expel the virus through saliva, mucous membranes and feces, and human infection can occur when the virus enters the eyes, nose or mouth through inhalation. Another way of transmitting the infection is through contact with infected surfaces and the consumption of meat and eggs of sick birds.

There have also been cases where there has been no direct contact between a person and a sick animal, suggesting the virus’s ability to cross the species barrier.

Human disease with avian influenza varies in severity, from asymptomatic or mild illness to severe illness leading to death.

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Winged bodies

Thus, among the many viruses circulating on the planet, the most dangerous are zoonotic infections – that is, those transmitted from animals to humans. In addition, zoonoses are responsible for a large percentage of all recognized infectious diseases on Earth. For example, the H5N1 flu virus is raging on poultry farms and millions of chickens have been killed to reduce infection.

H5N1 – это тип вируса гриппа, который вызывает высокоинфекционное тяжелое респираторное заболевание у птиц. Случаи заболевания людей случаются время от времени, а передача инфекции между людьми происходит редко. Но когда заражение все-таки происходит, риск смертельного исхода составляет 60%.

All types of birds are susceptible to the flu, including chickens, turkeys, ducks, pheasants, guinea fowl, quail, birds, storks, gulls and almost all other bird species.

When infected with avian influenza, the incubation period is on average 2-3 days. Symptoms appear after the end: fever, body aches, disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory system, nervous system, kidneys and liver.

But the problem, unfortunately, does not only occur on farms – cases of migratory bird infections are known – they actively transmit the disease without showing any visible signs. Thus, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has already confirmed that 385 birds are carriers of a highly pathogenic virus (data given on March 17, 2022).

Wild birds that fly freely can carry many strains of avian influenza. According to experts, the carriers can be both wild birds and chickens, turkeys, pheasants, geese and ducks.

The causative agent is influenza A virus (H5N1, H5N2, etc.)

Animal flu viruses, such as bird flu, are genetically similar to human flu viruses. Because of their potential for genetic evolution and transmission to humans, avian influenza viruses are considered a major public health problem.

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Large cases of avian influenza

2022 will definitely not be quiet. This applies both to the international situation and the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as to the spread of outbreaks of other infectious diseases to animals and humans. So we recently talked about foot-and-mouth disease, the victims of which were cattle.

Major outbreaks of avian influenza virus have occurred in the past – for example, in 2014-2015, approximately 50 million birds were destroyed. Cases have been reported in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, China, Albania, Latvia and others. As of early February, approximately four million chickens and turkeys have been destroyed on farms in the United States. The financial consequences are also a serious problem.

По мнению экспертов, вслед за коронавирусом в мире может начаться эпидемия птичьего гриппа, которая способна унести жизни миллиарда человек.

The danger of the flu lies in the fact that it very quickly leads to a complication of the disease in the form of pneumonia.

In Russia, avian influenza was detected in 2021 – 68 outbreaks were recorded, 14 of which occurred in wildlife and 54 in poultry. Given the migration, the probability of the virus entering the regions of Russia (both highly pathogenic and low pathogenic) remains high.

There is currently a worldwide H5N1 strain that can be transmitted to humans, although US officials have said the risk is low. However, experts are increasingly talking about the threat of a new pandemic, such as the Nipah virus or monkey pox. Read more about why these infections came under scrutiny here, we recommend you read.

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