United States: The H5N1 virus is infecting the US cattle, which is now showing strain presence in mammals too, which, as per the experts, is a dangerous signal to show that someday sooner it will reach the people. 

Warning issued by WHO 

The news was reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) chief scientist, Dr. Jeremy Farrar in his warning issued last week. 

According to him, as per the new WHO’s definition for airborne pathogens, “We have to watch, more than watch, we have to make sure that if H5N1 did come across to humans with human-to-human transmission that we were in a position to immediately respond with access equitably to vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics,” as the US news reported. 

In the rare case scenarios, the virus H5N1 has the tendency to infect humans who continuously stay in close contact with the infected animals, which was the case in the recently held incidence, where a Texas cattleman, due to his close proximity with the infected dairy, cattle got contracted. However, so far the human-to-human commutation of the virus has been held a difficult occurance, as per the experts. 

US on High Alert as H5N1 Virus Spreads in Cattle, With Potential for Human Transmission. Credit | The New York Times
US on High Alert as H5N1 Virus Spreads in Cattle, With Potential for Human Transmission. Credit | The New York Times

Farrar said, “The great concern, of course, is that in doing so and infecting ducks and chickens — but now increasingly mammals — that that virus now evolves and develops the ability to infect humans,” and, “And then critically, the ability to go from human-to-human transmission.” 

In a report by WHo, the total cases of mortality draw a grim picture, as since 2003, 889 cases of human avian flu infection have been known worldwide, where 463 or 52 percent of the cases were those where an infected person lost his or her life. 

Dr. Richard Webby directs the WHO’s coordinating center for studies on the ecology of influenza, “This virus is a really scary virus. It’s something I would hate to see in humans,” according to CNN News, 

He added, “What’s happening now there are lots more small mammals being infected with this virus and we’ve ever seen in the past 20, close to 25 years of monitoring, so that is absolutely concerning.” 

H5N1 has yet to pick up Human-to-human mutations- Experts 

According to experts, the H5N1 strain for now has yet to pick up mutations which could make transmission of infection between human-to-human a possibility, so “this virus has got quite a hurdle to overcome to become a real sort of human pathogen,” as the US News reported. 

Additionally, the recent case of virus infection in Texas, where a human was reportedly for the disease, was studied by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who have noted the reason be the vulnerability of the individual existing antiviral medications. 

Moreover, the said man had started showing minor symptoms of the disease, and he was later placed in isolation. Therefore, at that time, the CDC marked the threat level to the public as “low.” 

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