Europe and Africa become the epicenter of avian influenza epidemics

Science Editorial, October 18 (EFE) – A published investigation confirms that the epicenter of bird flu has moved from Asia to several regions in Europe and Africa, with variants from both continents in some cases Highly toxic, appearing in Nature today between 2020 and 2022.

The study, involving research centers in China, Egypt, France, Australia, the United Arab Emirates and the United States, also confirmed that wild birds played an important role in the spread of avian influenza viruses (H5) from Asia to other regions. .

The avian influenza virus was discovered in China in 1996 and began circulating in wild birds outside China in 2014. A highly pathogenic strain (H5N1) of the virus has been observed since 2021, but its origin remains unknown. clear.

Now, researchers have understood how these new highly virulent H5N1 viruses evolved by combining with other low-pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) strains from wild and domestic poultry during the global spread of the initial virus.

To reach this conclusion, they used epidemiological data collected by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Organization for Animal Health from 2005 to 2022 to analyze the origins and changing trends of highly pathogenic avian H5 epidemics, and Analysis of more than 10,000 complete viral genomes.

After analyzing the genomes, they found that the first major outbreak originated in China in 2016/17, while two new H5 viruses discovered between 2020 and 2022 emerged from African and European bird populations, which would It shows that the epicenter of the epidemic has undergone major changes. Bird flu spread from Asia to these continents.

The persistence of these viruses in wild birds facilitates their geographical spread and expands the range of avian species they infect, including domestic birds.

“These findings urge the development of systematic control measures for domestic and wild birds to limit virus transmission and control the prevalence of highly pathogenic avian influenza in global avian populations, as well as further research on viral evolution to mitigate and respond to new virus strains. ” the author points out.

Furthermore, these control and surveillance measures will prevent the spread of the virus to mammals, including humans, and prevent what the scientific community believes could become the next pandemic.

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