June 13, 2024

H5N1 Bird Flu cases increase to 92 in 12 countries – WHO

H5N1 Bird Flu cases increase to 92 in 12 countries – WHO

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.

According to him, WHO is monitoring multiple avian flu viruses in humans through the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System.

He said that surveillance of flu viruses among animals globally must also be intensified to rapidly detect any changes to the virus that could pose a greater threat to humans.

“These systems are only as good as the timely detection and the sharing of viruses and information.

“Collaboration, communication, and information sharing between the animal and human health sectors is essential in all countries. This is the meaning of one health,” he said.

Avian influenza virus infections in humans may cause diseases ranging from mild upper respiratory tract infections to more severe diseases and can be fatal. 

Conjunctivitis, gastrointestinal symptoms, encephalitis, and encephalopathy have also been reported. (NAN