The Avian Flu, Threat or Scare?

Marcus Ringo

The high price of eggs may not have to be the only bird-related problem we have.

Hundreds of dead seals were found in December in the Caspian sea, in what is expected to have been a "Mass Mortality event." Scientists haven't sealed the deal yet. The exact cause of death is still unknown, however, they have found the avian flu prevalent in the tissue samples. The origin is still in question and scientists are still not sure where or how the seals acquired the avian flu in the first place. Until recently, transmitting between mammals was an incredibly rare occurrence.

We're not trying to ruffle feathers here, so it's a good thing to note that as of now, the BBC reports:

The likelihood of the bird flu jumping from mammals to humans is still quite low. There also is no evidence supporting it to be transmissible between humans.

Even though the possibility of a large-scale event is currently very low, it's important to note that earlier this year, a mink farm reported an outbreak where tissue samples showed evidence of a mutation. We shouldn't put all our eggs in one basket because at the moment we really can't rule out the possibility of this becoming a more pressing issue.

BBC has also addressed:

Worldwide, the virus has been found in a range of mammals, including grizzly bears in America and mink in Spain, as well as in dolphin and seals.
In the UK, the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has tested 66 mammals, including seals, and found nine otters and foxes were positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1.
Cases have been found in Durham, Cheshire and Cornwall in England; Powys in Wales; Shetland, the Inner Hebrides and Fife, Scotland.

China and Ecuador have reported recent cases of H5N1 and H9N2. A 9-year-old girl is Ecuador's very first reported case of H5N1. In China, the H9N2 cases have afflicted a 58-year-old man as well as a 3-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl.

As far as a matter of public opinion, some would say that this issue is currently not yet pressing. Others, such as the writer of this article, have a different opinion on the matter:

The CDC and other health institutions will continue to assure everyone that avian flu isn’t that contagious. It’s their go-to response now. According to an article in Science, “avian H5N1 influenza viruses can acquire the capacity for airborne transmission between mammals without recombination in an intermediate host and therefore constitute a risk for human pandemic influenza.”

With humanity rapidly encroaching upon animal habitats as well as our global temperature rising, we can only expect more illnesses and diseases to spread. For our own sake, let's hope that we can keep this one in the coup.
bird walkingPhoto byJames WainscoatonUnsplash

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Freelance writer, unapologetic centrist, spirit of the world.

New River, AZ

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