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Avian flu has also infected dogs, cats, and dolphins in the United States.  WHO: “Human cases are underestimated”

Avian flu has also infected dogs, cats, and dolphins in the United States. WHO: “Human cases are underestimated”

Not just livestock and birds: Avian flu victims include dogs, cats, minks, polar bears, foxes, seals and sea lions, as well as some endangered species, according to a New York Times report.

The H5N1 strain of bird flu poses a risk of transmission among US livestock, with a high probability of mutations and consequent transmission to humans. This is according to a series of reports from experts interviewed for the journal Nature. New data show that the virus can species-jump between cows and birds, a feature that allows it to spread over large territories.

More and more species are susceptible to the virus and as the Covid-19 pandemic has taught, the more a virus spreads between animal species and the greater the likelihood of mutations, the better its adaptability.

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“I’ve never seen a virus expand its range of ‘hosts’ in my life,” says Troy Sutton, a virologist who studies avian and human influenza viruses at Penn State University.

Time to worry?

In the last 20 years, less than 1000 cases of H5N1 infection have been reported, one recently in Texas, but the mortality rate is 52%, so very high, and with the strong neurotropism of the virus, ie. Cells of the nervous system. But no cases of human-to-human transmission have been reported. It is not known whether this ever occurs, but since this is an influenza virus that undergoes strong genetic recombination, it should not be overlooked.

For this reason, eco-epidemiological surveillance is fundamental: following the evolution and habitats of the virus, as well as monitoring and evaluating transmission mechanisms are of primary importance for planning interventions and managing epidemics. Not forgetting that 70% of infectious diseases that affect humans come from the animal world, and history teaches that there is a potential risk to human health, but WHO, the World Health Organization, and Woah, the World Organization for Animal Health, said. Not entirely impossible.

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Therefore, collaboration between the various disciplines of animal and human health is desirable, which would exemplify a one-health approach.

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