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US Faces Bird Flu Challenge: Fifth Human H5N1 Case Sparks Urgent Response

Fifth Human H5N1 Case Sparks Urgent Response | Credits: iStock

United States: The outbreak due to H5N1 bird flu has forced the healthcare workers of the United States to sound alarm. The concerns and worried related to the infection are high because currently, the infection has also been transmitted among mammals, including humans. The looming threat has increased after the US reported fifth case of the infection among humans.

Recently, a second dairy worker in Colorado tested positive for H5N1 infection, taking the national toll to five (5). The infected individual reported mild symptoms and is reportedly recovered from the infection. The person experienced pink eye or redness in the eyes as symptoms of the disease, according to reports by Forbes.

The nation has been experiencing this for a long time; however, in the month of June, multiple dairy herds and poultry farms saw an increase in cases. During the previous month, hundreds of cows died or were slaughtered in Colorado, Ohio, Michigan, South Carolina, and Texas, according to reports by Reuters.

Can Bird Flu Spread Between Humans?

The World Health Organization asserts that bird flu does not “transmit easily from person to person.” Instances of avian influenza affecting humans are infrequent, with most previous cases resulting from close interactions with infected poultry, as reported by the CDC. Given the “pandemic potential” of human-to-human transmission of bird flu, each human case is meticulously examined to rule out this type of spread. Although no cases have been confirmed, there have been a few global instances—none in the US—where human-to-human transmission of bird flu was deemed “probable,” including in China, Thailand, Indonesia, and Pakistan, according to Forbes.

Fatality of Bird Flu to Humans?

The health experts have outlined that the bird flu could become deadly for humans. According to reports shared by the World Health Organisation, as many as 888 humans have tested positive for bird flu between January 2003 and March 2024. Out of the total, around 463 people lost their lives, i.e., 52 percent, as per Forbes.

During the current outbreak, around five (5) people have tested positive for the infection in the US, and none has died.

What are the common symptoms experienced by infected individuals?

Some of the common symptoms experienced by the infected people are cough, fever, chills, difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath, congestion, runny nose, nausea or vomiting, muscle ache or headache, and pink eye.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has asked the general public to get tested as soon as they develop any of the symptoms, as per Forbes.

Bird Flu and its Vaccine!

As of now, the Food and Drug Administration has approved a few vaccines that can be effective against the flu in humans. If a human outbreak happens, the government has drafted plans to quickly develop a large number of vaccines, but it will take at least six (6) months to have enough for everyone, as mentioned by Forbes.

However, in 2023, the USDA started testing vaccines specifically for animals against H5N1.

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