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Scientists Warn Of Lethal Bird Flu Pandemic

By Fnf correspondent | PUBLISHED: 08, Apr 2024, 17:52 pm IST | UPDATED: 08, Apr 2024, 17:52 pm IST

Scientists Warn Of Lethal Bird Flu Pandemic

NEW YORK: In a concerning development reported by the New York Post, experts have issued warnings about a potential bird flu pandemic, which they claim could be "100 times worse than COVID." The discovery of a rare human case in Texas has raised alarms among scientists and health officials. The H5N1 avian flu, which emerged as a new strain in 2020, has rapidly spread, affecting wild birds across all states, as well as commercial poultry and backyard flocks. Recent cases in mammals, including infected cattle herds across four states, have escalated concerns.

At a panel discussing the issue, Suresh Kuchipudi, a prominent bird flu researcher, emphasized the long-standing threat posed by the H5N1 virus. He highlighted its ability to infect various mammalian hosts, including humans, making it a global pandemic threat. John Fulton, a pharmaceutical industry consultant, echoed these concerns, suggesting that the potential impact of the virus could surpass that of COVID if it mutates while maintaining a high fatality rate. "This appears to be 100 times worse than COVID -- or it could be if it mutates and maintains its high case fatality rate," John Fulton, a pharmaceutical industry consultant for vaccines and the founder of Canada-based BioNiagara who organized the meeting, was cited as saying. 

With a fatality rate of around 52% among humans infected since 2003, according to the World Health Organization, H5N1 presents a significant health risk. Symptoms are similar to other flu strains but can lead to severe pneumonia, with some cases resulting in death.

A dairy worker in Texas who contracted the virus reported symptoms consistent with conjunctivitis. While the CDC assured the public of low risk, the situation is being closely monitored due to the unprecedented detection of the virus in cattle.

The detection of the virus in cattle raises concerns about mutation and potential human transmission. Experts warn that if H5N1 mutates to efficiently spread among humans, it could lead to large-scale transmission due to the lack of immune defences.

Efforts are underway to develop vaccines and preventive measures against the virus. The US is already testing vaccine components, and candidate vaccine viruses show promise in protecting against H5N1. Both the CDC and the White House have emphasized the seriousness of the situation, with ongoing monitoring and efforts to keep the public informed and safe. As the world grapples with the evolving threat of the H5N1 avian flu, vigilance and coordinated global efforts remain crucial to prevent a potential pandemic.

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