Highly pathogenic bird flu virus puts Centre on alert

Source: The post is based on the article “Highly pathogenic bird flu virus puts Centre on alert” published in The Hindu on 4th May 2023

What is the News?

The World Economic Forum(WEF) in its latest paper on pandemic and preparedness has warned that India is at “risk and vulnerable” to the ongoing outbreaks of avian influenza (H5N1) worldwide.

What is Avian Influenza or Bird Flu?

Avian influenza or bird flu is a highly contagious severe respiratory disease which primarily infects birds. 

It has a high mortality rate, especially in poultry but doesn’t usually infect humans.

It is spread through birds’ droppings, saliva, or through contaminated food and water. 

The current most problematic strain, H5N1, was first detected in southern China and Hong Kong back in 1996.

Currently, there is no vaccine for avian influenza.

How much of a threat is Bird Flu to Humans?

The WHO points out that whenever bird flu circulates in poultry, there is a risk for sporadic infection in humans. 

However, the virus doesn’t currently infect humans easily, and person-to-person transmission remains unusual. 

Almost all cases of infection have resulted from people coming into close contact with live or dead infected birds or contaminated environments.

But with such high levels of the virus circulating, there is the risk that the virus may become better adapted to infect humans and animals.

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