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Monday May 20, 2024

Risk of bird flu spreading to humans is ‘enormous concern’: WHO

By Agencies
April 19, 2024
File photo: Caged ducks await slaughter due to the avian flu outbreak at a farm in Doazit, southwestern France, January 26, 2022. — AFP
File photo: Caged ducks await slaughter due to the avian flu outbreak at a farm in Doazit, southwestern France, January 26, 2022. — AFP 

PARIS: The World Health Organisation has raised concerns about the spread of H5N1 bird flu, which has an “extraordinarily high” mortality rate in humans.

An outbreak that began in 2020 has led to the deaths or killing of tens of millions of poultry. Most recently, the spread of the virus within several mammal species, including in domestic cattle in the US, has increased the risk of spillover to humans, the WHO said.

“This remains I think an enormous concern,” the UN health agency’s chief scientist, Jeremy Farrar, told reporters in Geneva.

Cows and goats joined the list of species affected last month – a surprising development for experts because they were not thought susceptible to this type of influenza. US authorities reported this month that a person in Texas was recovering from bird flu after being exposed to dairy cattle, with 16 herds across six states infected apparently after exposure to wild birds. The A(H5N1) variant has become “a global zoonotic animal pandemic”, Farrar said.