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First Human Case of H5N1 Bird flu confirmed

2024.07.10 11:17:31 Daniel Pi

[Respiration protection. Photo Credit to Pixabay]

April 1st, 2024, the highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1), commonly known as bird flu, infected its first human victim in recorded history after transmission of the initial disease from a host cow.


The person tested positive for H5N1, a rare but deadly virus that records fewer than 1,000 cases per year globally.


The bird flu’s fatality rate is alarmingly high, with approximately 50% of those infected, or around 463 people, having died from the disease.


Such a rare and unusual disease has raised controversy over the origins of the virus.


Earlier in March, Pathologist Lineke Begemen led an expedition to Antarctica to discover what was behind this devastating disease.


What he found was a shocking tragedy: Not only were millions of wild bird specimens killed by the avian flu (including 600,000 in South America), but the bird flu also infected 26 known mammal species and even spread as far asDenmark.


"The moment we found the first evidence of that destructive serial killer virus amidst such a bird-rich, pristine area, we realized what disaster is about to happen and it became sickening indeed," said Begeman.


Animals such as the common bear, sea lions, minks, were among the many thousands affected by this catastrophic disaster.


According to Begemen’s research, the bird flu likely originated in Guangdong, China.


Aquatic bird species in wetlands and rivers are believed to have been initial carriers of the viurs.


The first known case of H5N1 infection was identified in a farm goose in 1996.


The virus has since made its way from Texas to Michigan, infiltrating animal farms and infecting various livestock, which led to the first human case reported in 2024.


Thankfully, only one mutation of the virus has been identified as spreading among populations, and scientists and international health organizations are putting their best efforts into ceasing its transmission.


Further research has established the primary factors facilitating the spread of the disease include contact with live or dead birds.


Bird markets and zoos are considered extreme-risk areas for H5N1 contamination.


To combat H5N1, antiviral medicines such as oseltamivir are recommended, especially for patients with severe or progressive influenza.


Immediate treatment is crucial to managing the disease effectively.


The World Health Organization (WHO) is actively working to prevent further spread of the virus.


WHO collaborates with global health partners and agencies, including the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).


WHO has secured agreements with 15 vaccine manufacturers to access about 10% of real-time production of future pandemic influenza vaccines.


These vaccines will be distributed based on public health risk and need.

Although influenza has cast a large and unknown shadow over humanity through one of the world’s most common creatures, modern scientists and researchers are working to eliminate this danger.

Daniel Pi / Grade 10 Session 5
Round Rock High School