There is an alert for a new avian flu virus

There is an alert for a new avian flu virus

H5N8, an emerging avian flu virus, has already caused the death and killing of millions of animals worldwide. There have also been cases among people

(photo: Pixabay) 2020 was also a bad year for birds. While we were (rightly) focused on the Sars-Cov-2 pandemic, another virus has caused a series of outbreaks that have plagued avian populations, from farmed chickens and ducks to wild and migratory birds, in at least 46 states. The pathogen in question is called H5N8 and, unfortunately, there have also been cases of infection in humans.

To draw attention to the importance of monitoring and containing animal viruses were Weifeng Shi, of Shandong First Medical University, and George F. Gao, of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention - among the first to study the virus responsible for Covid-19.

From the pages of Science, the two researchers retrace briefly the history of avian influenza viruses (H5Ny), underlining that in recent years highly pathogenic subtypes have spread all over the world, from China to southern Africa and Europe. They have been known for decades for their troubling characteristics, such as the propensity for rapid worldwide spread thanks to migratory birds and the ability to replenish their genetic makeup with other avian influenza virus subtypes.

In During the past year, the H5N8 2.3.4 virus, which now seems to be the most widespread in the family and which has caused the death (also by elimination by containing the contagion) of millions of animals, showed itself in a particular way.

The pathogen, Shi and Gao report, would be the cause of an epidemic outbreak in Russia in December 2020, involving seven people operating in the avian sector. This would be the first episode of transmission of the virus to humans.

An alarm bell, according to the researchers, who have identified cellular binding adaptations in the virus that could entail greater risks in the direction of human transmission and Person-to-person transmissibility: "It is imperative that the worldwide spread and potential risk of Aivs [Avian Influenza Virus, ed] H5N8 for poultry farms, avian fauna and global public health are not ignored".

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Coronavirus Influenza Health globalData.fldTopic = "Coronavirus, Influenza, Health"

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