America’s epidemiologist Eric Feigel-Ding wrote in his tweet, ‘Egg prices are at their peak. Bird-flu outbreaks are on the rise. An estimated 58.4 million domestic birds have been killed in the US alone. Farms with known outbreaks have had to mass cull their chickens, which has increased the price of eggs. Zoos have kept their birds in flocks indoors to protect them from infection. The virus is preying on mammals, foxes, bears, minks, whales, seals, both on land and seas, leading to fears that humans could be next.
‘The risk is low but humans are not safe’
He wrote, ‘Scientists believe that the risk of spread among people is very low. But every new case of the virus in warm-blooded people indicates that the virus is improving its ability to take on new hosts. Richard Webby, a virologist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, says that each time this happens it is another opportunity for the virus to adapt. Right now the virus is a kid in a candy store.
Fewer cases but more risk of death
In January the World Health Organization reported avian influenza in a young girl in Ecuador. It was the first such case in Latin America. Only five cases of human bird flu have been reported in the last one year. But according to the WHO, past human cases of H5N1 avian influenza have had a mortality rate of 53 percent. Outbreaks of the virus have increased in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa.