Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Referral: IJID Editorial Avian `Bird' Flu - Undue Media Panic or Genuine Pandemic Concern?

H5N1 Virus - Photo Credit CDC PHIL 


Although influenza viruses are notoriously unpredictable, it is no secret that HPAI H5 has been making disconcerting moves the past few years, and that there are legitimate concerns that it could better adapt to humans and possibly spark a pandemic. 
The recent spillover into cattle is only the latest in a series of red flags.  Tens of thousands of marine mammals have been infected, and have died, over the past two years, as well as tens of millions of birds.   

Personally, my biggest concern is that the virus spills over into swine, which could afford it additional opportunities to reassort with human and/or swine influenza A viruses.  But even if that doesn't happen, the virus seems to be on a perilous trajectory. 

While some of the `worst-case scenarios' being bandied about online, or in the tabloids, are probably overblown (see Revisiting the H5N1 CFR Debate), anything over a 1% fatality rate would be devastating.

Yesterday the IJID (International Journal of Infectious Diseases) published an open-access editorial on HPAI's growing pandemic potential, where they caution:

The recent incident of A(H5N1) in dairy cattle and the human infection is a wake-up call for action

Rather than post excerpts, I'll simply invite my reader to follow the link to read the editorial in its entirety.  I'll have a bit more after you return.

Ziad A MemishDavid S HuiLucille BlumbergShui- Shan LeeAlimuddin Zumla
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Open Access Published: April 15, 2024 DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijid.2024.107062

This editorial follows similar cautionary articles over the past week, which include:

JAVMA: HPAI in Wildlife: A Changing Disease Dynamic

AJVR: The Virus is Out of the Barn: The Emergence of HPAI

There is little doubt that experts around the world are increasingly worried. Hopefully another pandemic isn't imminent, but we would be prudent to prepare as if it were.