Still struggling with pandemic fatigue? Then you may still not know about the virus sweeping the country.connected to overhead 50 million dead It’s only 2022, but don’t panic just yet. These deaths have so far only affected birds in the United States. A particularly dangerous form of H5N1 influenza, highly pathogenic avian influenza A (HPAI), is highly contagious among birds, and mortality in winged animals can be nearly 100%, he said. National Emerging Special Agent Training and Education Center.
Bird flu rarely infects humans. the United States first human case Last April, HPAI was confirmed in a person who was involved in the slaughter of birds on a farm where H5N1 was confirmed to infect poultry. The patient was isolated and recovered after treatment with antiviral drugs. world health organization.
However, given the right conditions, a few spillover cases could quickly escalate into an epidemic-scale public health problem. Ebola is one example. Since it was first reported in 1976, the virus has intermittently infected humans in endemic areas. But the worst outbreak of the virus occurred in 2014, when it spread to over 28,000 people in West Africa and killed over 11,000.
Recent Reports of HPAI Infecting and Killing thousands of sea lions In South America, researchers fear the virus could one day spread among humans or join a dangerous melting pot within its mammalian host.
“I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this strain because it could be zoonotic.” Spreading from animals to humans, Adele TallartA microbiology researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison told The Daily Beast that Talaat has been working to develop a bird flu vaccine that could one day be administered to poultry.
Wait, are we vaccinating birds now??
The United States has not vaccinated poultry for bird flu, but researchers including Talaat believe it should. He and his team are working on nanovaccines where the size of the active ingredient is very small to better induce immune responses. His vaccine is administered by spray rather than injection, which more quickly inoculates large numbers of birds.
It is important to note that the goals of bird vaccination are not the same as for humans. Birds living on farms that are vaccinated represent only a small fraction of the world’s bird population, so rather than achieving meaningful herd immunity, the goal of vaccination is to reduce HPAI and bird culling. Minimize the associated economic costs. According to Talaat, methods of vaccinating wild bird populations are currently impractical, prompting researchers to focus on those that can be viably controlled.
The sea lion incident may be a sign of what’s to come
Recent reports of sea lions mutually spreading HPAI and dying from the disease are more alarming to humans than it sounds. Researchers usually think of zoonotic diseases in multiple stages, and a series of mutations in influenza viruses are necessary for the pathogen to not only occasionally spill out of birds, but to spread among humans. Having successfully infected mammalian species means that it is nowhere near as widespread among humans as we think.
A second concern about HPAI infecting non-avian animals is the threat of: antigenic shiftThe influenza virus surface proteins are what our immune system recognizes and uses to generate matching neutralizing antibodies. But over time, these proteins change beyond recognition. . This process can also occur suddenly when her two subtypes of influenza virus meet in a single host. In 2009 there was a notable antigenic shift leading to ‘swine flu’. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Antigenic shift is a more real threat as the virus continues to infect sea lions, Talaat said. At this point, researchers can only monitor.
What happens when the virus jumps over? Am I in danger?
“We have to be ready, which means we have to be ready for a new vaccine,” said Talaat. “These events occur because of the constant evolution of the virus and we have no control over it. There are no barriers to prevent contact with wild birds.”
The CDC is Candidate vaccine virus It can be used to make vaccines for humans if desired. Countries also need to prepare for a surplus of existing antiviral drugs. Tallart said there’s not much you or I can do other than take the usual precautions for our hygiene and limit the amount of time we spend around birds.
So how should I worry?
It’s a wait-and-see scenario at this point.
“Frankly, I’m not worried about us in the United States,” said Talaat. Occurrence and spread of zoonotic diseasesBut if the virus turns out to be spreading among humans, that risk assessment would change.