Just like COVID, the bird flu virus is also mutating: Experts warn of the high potential for outbreaks in humans

Just like COVID, the bird flu virus is also mutating: Experts warn of the high potential for outbreaks in humans
Just like COVID, the bird flu virus mutates

Alarm! The bird flu or bird flu virus mutates. Read on to find out everything.

Amid rising fears of 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 from Indian health authorities, the government in Bihar has sounded the alarm after multiple cases of the H5N1 virus were confirmed in the state. More worrying at the moment are the new mutations that experts have identified in the virus. Let’s understand how menacing these new mutations in the virus are and where does India stand when it comes to an outbreak of the H3N1 virus or avian flu virus.

New mutation in avian influenza virus shows high potential for human outbreak

Avian flu is an airborne infection caused by strains of the influenza virus that primarily infect birds. Transmission of this virus occurs through infected bodily fluids of the birds. The virus primarily affects the environmental bird community. What about the people? Although experts had shown cases of transmission of the H3N1 or H2N3 virus to humans and the possibility of it entering and escaping the immune system, the likelihood of it causing serious consequences in humans was too small. But that is no longer the case. A recent study has revealed something unusual and new. According to the scientists, they have identified new mutations in the H5N1 avian flu virus that 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 transmission remains low, but the new changes observed are “worrying”. It also suggests that the potential risk of spreading to humans is increasing.

Last month, the Chilean Health Ministry confirmed in a statement that a 53-year-old man had tested positive for the H5N1 virus. According to the medical reports, the man was in a serious but stable condition with a severe pneumonia-like illness.

China reports first death from bird flu

This comes days after Chin confirmed the first human death from the bird flu virus. The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed the death of a 56-year-old Chinese woman from the H3N8 strain of bird flu, which is rare in humans. The H3N8 subtype of bird flu is a rare strain of the virus and is unusual in spreading among the human community.

Regarding this rare case of avian flu deaths 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. No other cases have been reported in people who were in close contact with the infected person, according to the global health agency.

Bird flu: can this bird virus turn into a human virus?

The virus responsible for serious human infections has been identified as H7N9 and H5N1. The symptoms that patients often report are those of ordinary 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, explained that the H5 virus must go through three main categories of changes in order to become a threat to the human community. “The sequences of the person in Chile show one of these classes of changes. But we also know that of these three sets of changes, this is the easiest for the virus to do,” Jude was quoted as saying.

How to recognize the H3N1 virus infection in humans? A bird flu infection is usually diagnosed by taking a swab from the infected person’s upper respiratory tract. “The disease can have a high mortality rate in humans. Some antiviral medications can help if taken within two days of symptoms appearing. Oseltamivir or Tamiflu is one of the drugs that is effective against bird flu,” he said dr Nitin Verma Director Pediatrics Rosewalk Healthcare.

Avian Flu Outbreak: How Big Is the Threat for India?

As speculation that the H5 virus could transform from an avian virus into a human virus mounts in India, we spoke up dr Anamika Dubey, Senior Consultant, General Paediatrician, Madhukar Rainbow Children’s Hospital, Malviya Nagar.

dr Dubey said: “H5N1 outbreaks in wild birds and poultry have been repeated in the United States since 2022. In India, H5N1 in poultry farms was first reported in Maharashtra in 2006. Since then, outbreaks of avian influenza A have been reported on poultry farms every year. A human case of H5n1 was reported from Haryana state on July 21, 2021.”

On the safety measures to take during an avian flu outbreak, Dr. Dubey: “As recommended by the WHO, the public should at all times avoid contact with high-risk environments such as live animal markets/farms and live poultry surfaces that could be contaminated by 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 that influenza a or other avian influenza viruses can be transmitted to humans through properly prepared poultry. There is no epidemiological evidence that humans have contracted the avian influenza virus from eating eggs or egg products. However, eggs from areas with poultry outbreaks should not be eaten raw or partially cooked.”

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