This Article is From Feb 10, 2023

Humans Could Contract Bird Flu, Warns World Health Organization

As cases of H5N1 infection in people arise, WHO collaborates with partners and national authorities to closely monitor the situation.

Humans Could Contract Bird Flu, Warns World Health Organization

Bird flu viruses do not normally infect humans.

Bird flu is a disease brought on by infection with avian (bird) influenza (flu) Type A viruses, which can generally infect domestic poultry as well as other bird and mammal species. However, a recent WHO analysis stated that the disease's present trajectory puts humans in a concerning amount of danger.

The international agency's director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that "H5N1 has spread widely in wild birds and poultry for 25 years, but the recent spillover to mammals needs to be monitored closely."

"Since H5N1 first emerged in 1996, we have only seen rare and non-sustained transmission of H5N1 to and between humans. But we cannot assume that will remain the case, and we must prepare for any change in the status quo," he added.

There have been numerous cases of H5N1 avian influenza infections in mammals during the previous few weeks, including in minks, otters, foxes, and sea lions.

"As always, people are advised not to touch or collect dead or sick wild animals, but to report them to the local authorities. WHO is working with national authorities and partners to monitor the situation closely, and to study cases of H5N1 infection in humans when they occur."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, illness in humans from bird flu virus infections has ranged in severity from no symptoms or mild illness to severe disease that resulted in death.

"Asian lineage H7N9 and highly pathogenic avian influenza Asian lineage H5N1 viruses have been responsible for most human illnesses from bird flu viruses worldwide to date, including the most serious illnesses and illnesses with the highest mortality."