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Rising Cases Highlight Americans’ Low Immunity to Bird Flu

Americans' Low Immunity to Bird Flu

United States: The latest testing conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has outlined that Americans have little or no immunity against the currently circulating variant of H5N1 avian flu virus. The current update raises concerns because the infection has been spreading swiftly in dairy and poultry farms of the US and has become a zoonotic disease.

The health authorities have sounded alarm as the cases linked to the infection has been increasing at a rapid pace in dairy herds across the US. The infection has also been spreading in poultry flocks of the nation, according to the official data by the experts.

Early blood sample antibody testing

The study has been concluded on the basis of blood collected from people in around 10 regions of the United States. According to the reports, the data was collected during the early flu seasons, during 2021 to 2022 and 2022 to 2023.

Scientists exposed blood specimens to the H5N1 virus, scrutinizing for antibody interactions. Their findings revealed diminished antibody titers in individuals, regardless of their vaccination status against seasonal influenza. This observation intimates a paucity of pre-existing immunity, suggesting a considerable vulnerability within the populace should the virus mutate into a more transmissible form.

While explaining the same, the health agency mentioned, “This finding is not unexpected because A(H5N1) viruses have not spread widely in people and are very different from current and recently circulating human seasonal influenza A viruses,” according to CIDRAP News.

New Bird Flu Variant and Its Impact on Humans

According to reports by experts, the risk associated with bird flu remains low to humans. As of now, three Americans have been tested positive for the infections – all the cases were linked to dairy farm outbreaks – it is to be noted that all the infected people worked closely with cows and cattle.

Federal and Global Efforts Against H5N1

In late May, federal health authorities secured an agreement with CSL Seqirus to process and prepare bulk quantities of one of two candidate H5 vaccines, producing enough for 4.8 million doses. The CDC has confirmed that this vaccine is well-matched to the currently circulating H5N1 strain.

Visual Representation. Credit | Getty images

On a global scale, the predominant threat from the 2.3.4.4b clade of viruses appears to be to individuals who have had contact with infected animals. In a related move, Finland’s health ministry recently declared that it would offer the avian flu vaccine to those at risk of exposure, including poultry and fur farm workers, as well as veterinarians.

The ministry announced it would obtain the vaccine through a collaborative procurement effort among 15 European Union nations, with vaccination to commence promptly. This vaccine was developed by Seqirus UK, Ltd.

Over 100 dairy herds were infected, the infection reaches poultry

The total number of dairy herds infected in the US has reached up to 102 after the spread was reported in six (6) more dairy herds, according to the reports shared by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Out of the total confirmed six cases, five have been detected in Colorado and one in Iowa.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has announced three (3) additional outbreaks in dairy herds. These incidents occurred in Sioux County, with two outbreaks, and Plymouth County, with one outbreak.

Simultaneously, Minnesota has reported a new outbreak in commercial poultry. This latest incident involves a turkey farm in Stearns County, located in the central part of the state, which houses 33,100 birds, as confirmed by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

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