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Source: Bird Flu  Jan 06, 2022  1 year ago
Scientist And Experts Are Warning The Probability Of A New Bird Flu Strain Transmissible To Humans Likely To Emerge In 2022 Due To Current Kinetics!
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Scientist And Experts Are Warning The Probability Of A New Bird Flu Strain Transmissible To Humans Likely To Emerge In 2022 Due To Current Kinetics!
Source: Bird Flu  Jan 06, 2022  1 year ago
Numerous scientists and experts are sounding warnings and alarms that a new bird flu strain that is transmissible to humans is likely to emerge in 2022 due to present kinetics and the vast number of bird flu variants that has emerged in the last 2 years.

Putin With His Bird
Even just yesterday, the health director from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) issued a press statement warning about the high possibility of a new bird flu strain that has higher risk of spread to humans.
In the last two years there has been a wave of bird flu in Asia and Europe that has also seen the emergence of numerous new variants that have the high potential of spreading to humans.
The emergence and spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza, commonly called bird flu, has raised concern among governments and the poultry industry after numerous previous outbreaks led to the culling of tens of millions of birds and trade restrictions in the last two years.
OIE Director General Monique Eloit told media on Wednesday, "This time the situation is more difficult and more risky because we see more variants emerge, which make them harder to follow."
She added, "Eventually the risk is that it mutates or that it mixes with a human flu virus that can be transmitted between humans then suddenly it takes on a new dimension.”
To date, fifteen countries had reported outbreaks of bird flu in poultry just in the period between October 2021 and the end of December 2021, mostly the H5N1 strain.
According to OIE data, Italy was the worst hit in Europe with 285 outbreaks and nearly four million birds culled.

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Typcially outbreaks generally start in the autumn, when the infection is spread by migrating wild birds.
The H5N1 strain is one of the few bird flu strains that has passed to humans. In total around 850 people have been reported to be infected with the strain, of which half died, the OIE said.
In 2021, several people were infected by the H5N6 strain in China, raising concern among some experts, who say a previously circulating strain appears to have changed and may be more infectious to people. 
It was noted that China had reported 21 human infections with the H5N6 subtype of avian influenza in 2021 to the World Health Organization (WHO), compared with only five in 2020.
Although the numbers are much lower than the hundreds infected with H7N9 in 2017, the infections are serious, leaving many critically ill, and at least six dead.
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This is indicating that a new more lethal and virulent strain that can spread to humans is emerging.
Dr Thijs Kuiken, professor of comparative pathology at Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam commented, "The increase in human cases in China in late 2021 is of concern. It's a virus that causes high mortality."
The WHO had issued a statement then saying that, “Most of the cases had come into contact with poultry, and there are no confirmed cases of human-to-human transmission.” (Similar to what they had said about the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the beginning of the epidemic!)
The WHO also said further investigation was "urgently" required to understand the risk and the increase in spill over to people.
However, since that statement in late 2021, a 60-year-old woman in Hunan province was admitted to hospital in a critical condition with H5N6 influenza on according to a Hong Kong government statement in late 2021.
Interestingly while human H5N6 cases have been reported, no outbreaks of H5N6 have been reported in poultry in China since February 2020.
Some believe that the Chinese authorities are not being truthful and are actually covering up a lot of infection clusters and outbreaks among both animals and also humans!
China is the world's biggest poultry producer and top producer of ducks, which typically act as a reservoir for flu viruses.
It should be noted that the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) could not be reached for comment on the rise in H5N6 human cases in late 2021.
However, a study published on its website earlier before the late 2021 outbreak said the "increasing genetic diversity and geographical distribution of H5N6 pose a serious threat to the poultry industry and human health". That study was actually a case report detailing two earlier bird flu infections in the same year.
Typically, avian influenza viruses constantly circulate in domestic and wild birds, but rarely infect people. However, the evolution of the viruses, which have increased as poultry populations grow, is a major concern because they could change into a virus that spreads easily between people and cause a pandemic.
So far, the largest number of H5N6 infections have been in southwestern Sichuan province, though cases have also been reported in neighboring Chongqing and Guangxi, as well as Guangdong, Anhui and Hunan provinces in late 2021.
It was also reported that at least 10 were caused by viruses genetically very similar to the H5N8 virus that ravaged poultry farms across Europe last winter and also killed wild birds in China. That suggests the latest H5N6 infections in China may be a new variant.
Dr Kuiken added, "It could be that this variant is a little more infectious to people...or there could be more of this virus in poultry at the moment and that's why more people are getting infected.”
It was reported that four of the Sichuan cases raised poultry at home and had been in contact with dead birds, said a report by China's CDC. Another had bought a duck from a live poultry market a week before developing symptoms.
It was also reported that China vaccinates poultry against avian influenza but the vaccine used last year may only partially protect against emerging viruses, preventing large outbreaks but allowing the virus to keep circulating, said Dr Filip Claes, Regional Laboratory Coordinator at the Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases at the Food and Agriculture Organization.
Again, the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs did not respond to a request for comment.
Backyard farms in China are common and many people still prefer to buy live chickens at markets.
The city of Guilin in Guangxi region, which had two human cases in August 2021, said last month it had suspended trading of live poultry in 13 urban markets and would abolish the trade within a year. However according to witnesses, things are still as per normal there even as off three days ago.
It has been predicted that Europe, China or South-East Asia would be the three regions where the next human transmissible bird flu strain is likely to emerge.
Dr Eloit stressed, however, that most countries had learned to contain outbreaks and transmissions to humans would be sporadic as bird flu is usually passed through close contact.
Dr Eloit said, "If there are one, two or three humans infected it is worrying but it is not necessary to cry wolf too quickly about the risks of extension. It will depend on how the people have been infected.”
However, concerningly many scientists are also warning that with SARS-CoV-2 coronaviruses around and many variants emerging and spreading around the world, it should never be discounted that a recombinant event taking place between two different strains ie a coronavirus and a bird flu strain and a reassortant strain emerging is very likely possible as well.
2022 is indeed turning out to be a very interesting year.

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