As Bird Flu Spreads, Most Troubling Questions Resurface

Argentina recently joined country list where bird flu took its toll new epidemiological situation From birds to mammals.As declared by the World Health Organization (WHO), the escalation of the disease poses a greater risk: the distance between the virus and humans shortened.

In all cases, the infection was considered to be caused by Exposure of mammals to infected birds, through food or environmental exposure.In Argentina, the victims were sea ​​lion. The beaches of Tierra del Fuego, Santa Cruz, Chubut (Peninsula Valdes), Rionegro and the provinces of Buenos Aires (Mar del Plata, Necochea and Monte Hermoso) have been fatal cases were found.

In Mar del Plata, the situation forced the closure of the southern breakwater, a restriction that continues keep people away To the point where dozens of lifeless sea lions turn up.Laboratory analysis has confirmed the cause of these deaths this is bird flu.

Authorities in all affected coastal areas of the country are asking people not to visit beaches where dead sea lions are present, especially don’t do this to petssuch as dogs, to avoid potential human exposure to the virus through infected sea lions or birds.

alarm increase

alert is increasingly global. Sea lion infections have been reported in Chile and Peru. There have been mink cases in Spain.Finland just ordered the massacre 120,000 infected foxesto prevent the spread of the virus. In Poland, for the first time since the end of June, outbreaks in cats have been detected simultaneously in different towns in the country several kilometers apart. recent big red flags Transmission of viruses from birds to mammals.

Technicians analyze dead sea lion specimens found in Necochea.

Technicians analyze dead sea lion specimens found in Necochea.

There have also been outbreaks in foxes in the Netherlands and Germany, while the United States has had outbreaks in seals.the danger of doing so Unprecedented advances in bird flu According to the World Health Organization, (H5N1) mass transmission in mammals is as the virus spreads from one species to another Increased chance of mutation then it becomes more dangerous For the people.

In fact, in the case of infected animals, it has been demonstrated The presence of this mutation. These are viral changes in the PB2 gene segment that are known to promote the replication of avian influenza infection in mammals.

A recent investigation by scientists from the Finnish Food Safety Authority, published last July in Science Direct, looked at cases that occurred in Finland in autumn 2021, when there were Pheasant mass die-off Breeding and stocking in restricted areas in southern Finland.

Later, in the same area, they were found dead or dead and infected with the H5N1 virus. An otter, two red foxes and a bobcat. Molecular analysis revealed a mutation in a segment of the PB2 gene. The study also showed that mammalian avian influenza cases are spatially and temporally associated with mass die-offs in birds.

risk to humans

So far, the number of people infected with avian influenza virus is not large, although its lethal rate is unmatched by any other influenza virus.The World Health Organization has reported 868 cases The number of infections and deaths registered between January 2003 and January 23, 2023 is 457. Case fatality rate 53%.

Horses affected by avian influenza in Necochea. Photo: @necocheagovar

Horses affected by avian influenza in Necochea. Photo: @necocheagovar

Since October 2022, it has been reported that six cases Human infection with H5N1 virus: 2 cases in Cambodia, 2 cases in China, 1 case in Ecuador, 1 case in Vietnam. It appears that cases where the virus reaches this situation are rare and sporadic at the moment, but there are also issues with: most concerned about World Health Organization.

According to the National Epidemiological Bulletin, Argentina has detected 328 people have been exposed to the virus They are currently being monitored and there are 20 suspected cases, all of which have been ruled out as infection.

A recent WHO statement noted that “avian influenza viruses normally circulate among birds, but the increasing number of detections of H5N1 avian influenza in mammals (which are biologically closer to humans than birds) has triggered concerns about the virus. able to adapt to infect humans more easily. In addition, some mammals can act as mixing containers for influenza viruses, leading to the emergence of new viruses that are more harmful to animals and humans. “

“There has been a recent paradigm shift in the ecology and epidemiology of avian influenza, which has captured global attention as the disease spread across the globe,” OIE President Gregorio Torres said in a statement. new geographic area and lead to an alarming increase in the number of wild birds mammalian case“.

Finally, the World Health Organization released Detailed Species List Mammals infected with avian influenza to date: ferret, mink, European otter, North American river otter, sea otter, European badger, skunk, Virginia opossum, Amur leopard, Amur tiger, puma, fisherman, European polecat, bobcat, Bobcats, domesticated cats, red foxes, coyotes, raccoons, raccoon dogs, and South American hounds.

Also featured are American black bear, brown bear, grizzly bear, Kodiak bear, domestic pig (serology only), gray seal, harbor seal, fur seal, sea lion, porpoise, bottlenose dolphin, short-beaked dolphin, white-sided Dolphins, dogs, Japanese raccoon dogs, beech martens, Caspian seals, Asiatic black bears, Chilean dolphins, and Burmeister porpoises.


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