July 21, 2024

Avian Flu Outbreak: Cases Triple, WHO Warns of Rising Risk



The World Health Organisation (WHO) says the number of dairy herds affected by the avian influenza virus (H5N1) has almost tripled to 92 in 12 countries.


Also, the number of human cases has increased from 1 to 3, and the number of people being monitored has more than doubled to 500.


Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO, said this on Wednesday during an online media conference.


Ghebreyesus said that since 2003, there have been 893 reported infections of H5N1 in humans, including 11 so far in 2024, five in Cambodia, three in the U.S., and one each in Australia, China, and Vietnam.


According to him, in that time, the virus has not shown signs of having acquired the ability to spread easily among humans.


“That remains the case, which is why, at this time, WHO continues to assess the risk to public health as low.


“In recent years, H5N1 has spread widely among wild birds, poultry, land and marine mammals on several continents,” he said.


Ghebreyesus said that WHO recommended that anyone working with any infected animals, in any country, should have access to and use personal protective equipment.


“Follow-up, testing, and care of people exposed to the virus should continue systematically.


“Early medical care and support, and thorough and timely investigation of every human infection is essential to evaluate and interrupt potential onward transmission between humans,” he said.

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