Bird flu moving into mammals

Bird Flu Is Infecting More Mammals. What Does That Mean for Us?

H5N1, an avian flu virus, has killed tens of thousands of marine mammals, and infiltrated American livestock for the first time. Scientists are working quickly to assess how it is evolving and how much of a risk it poses to humans.

By Apoorva Mandavilli and Emily Anthes, The New York Times, April 22, 2024

The catastrophe [deaths of thousands of wild sea lions and elephant seals] was the latest in a bird flu epidemic that has whipped around the world since 2020, prompting authorities on multiple continents to kill poultry and other birds by the millions. In the United States alone, more than 90 million birds have been culled in a futile attempt to deter the virus.

There has been no stopping H5N1. Avian flu viruses tend to be picky about their hosts, typically sticking to one kind of wild bird. But this one has rapidly infiltrated an astonishingly wide array of birds and animals, from squirrels and skunks to bottlenose dolphins, polar bears and, most recently, dairy cows…

A human pandemic is by no means inevitable. So far at least, the changes in the virus do not signal that H5N1 that can cause a pandemic… [end quote]

Any disease that infects animals in the human food supply will cause food price inflation. But the greater concern is that viruses can mutate and can swap genes with other viruses of the same type. Virologists are monitoring the situation as a few animal-to-human transmissions have occurred, though no human-to-human yet.


Looking for H5N1.

Great. Looks like it’s in TX.


Yes, one case. The patient’s primary symptom was conjunctivitis (pink eye).

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