Alert! Bird flu or bird flu virus is mutating. Read on to find out all about it.
Amid growing fears over a possible fifth wave of COVID-19 in India, experts have warned of the massive spread of the bird flu virus in the country. In the latest report released by India’s health officials, the government sounded the alarm in Bihar after several cases of the H5N1 virus were confirmed in the state. What is more worrying at the moment are the new mutations that experts have noticed in the virus. Let us understand how threatening these new mutations of the virus are and where India stands in the face of an epidemic of the H3N1 virus or the bird flu virus.
New bird flu virus mutation shows high potential for human epidemic
Avian influenza is an airborne infection caused by strains of the influenza virus that primarily infect birds. The mode of transmission of this virus is through the infected bodily fluids of birds. The virus primarily affects the environmental avian community. And the humans? Although experts have shown cases of human transmission of the H3N1 0r H2N3 virus and the possibility of it penetrating and escaping the immune system, the risks of it causing serious consequences for humans were too low. But this is no longer the case. A recent study revealed something unusual and new. According to the scientists, they have identified new mutations in the H5N1 bird flu virus, which recently infected a man in Chile, and could pose a risk of spreading to humans.
According to the European Center for Disease Control (ECDC), the risk of human-to-human spread remains low but the new changes observed are “concerning”. It also suggests that the potential risk of human spread is increasing.
Last month, in a statement, the Chilean Ministry of Health confirmed that a 53-year-old man had tested positive for the H5N1 virus. According to medical reports, the man is in serious but stable condition with severe pneumonia-like illness.
China reports first death from bird flu
It comes days after Chin confirmed the first human death from the bird flu virus. The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed the death of a 56-year-old Chinese woman from the H3N8 strain of bird flu, which is rare in humans. The H3N8 avian influenza subtype is a rare strain of the virus and is rarely spread among the human community.
Speaking of this rare bird flu death in China, the WHO confirmed that the virus responsible for the infection was influenza A(H3), which is very common in birds and extremely rare in humans. According to the global health body, no additional cases have been reported among people who had been in close contact with the infected person.
Avian flu: can this avian virus turn into a human virus?
The virus responsible for serious human infections has been identified as H7N9 and H5N1. Symptoms commonly reported by patients resemble those of common flu, such as fever, body aches, sore throat, and cough. Speaking to the media, Richard J. Webby, an avian flu expert at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital said that to become a threat to the human community, the H5 virus will need to undergo three major categories of changes. “The footage of the person in Chile has one of those categories of changes. But we also know that of those three sets of changes, this is the easiest for the virus to do,” Jude said.
How to detect H3N1 virus infection in humans? Bird flu infection is usually diagnosed by taking a swab from the sick person’s upper respiratory tract. “The disease can lead to high mortality in humans. Certain antiviral medications, if taken within two days of symptoms, may help. Oseltamivir or Tamiflu is one of the effective drugs against bird flu,” said Dr. Nitin Verma Director of Pediatrics Rosewalk Healthcare.
Bird flu outbreak: how big is the threat to India?
As speculation of the H5 virus turning into a human virus from an avian virus is on the rise in India, we spoke to Dr Anamika Dubey, Senior Consultant, General Pediatrician, Madhukar Rainbow Children’s Hospital, Malviya Nagar.
Dr Dubey said: “In the United States, there have been repeated outbreaks of H5 N1 in wild birds and poultry since 2022. In India, H5N1 in poultry farms was first reported in 2006 in Maharashtra. Since then, outbreaks of avian influenza A in poultry farms have been reported every year. A human case of H5n1 was notified on July 21, 2021 in the state of Haryana.
Speaking of safety measures that can be taken during an outbreak of avian influenza, Dr Dubey said: “As advised by the WHO, the public should at all times avoid contact with high-risk environments such as markets/farms with live animals and live poultry, or surfaces that may be contaminated with poultry or bird droppings Hand hygiene with frequent hand washing with soap and water is recommended. Good food safety practices should be followed. There is no evidence to suggest that influenza a or other avian influenza viruses can be transmitted to humans through well-cooked poultry. There is no There is no epidemiological evidence to suggest that people have been infected with the avian influenza virus through the consumption of eggs or egg products.However, eggs from areas with outbreaks in poultry should not be eaten raw or partially cooked. »
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