Bird flu: Brazil declares animal health emergency after several cases found

An inspector in Brazil testing a lab sample for bird flu last month

Bird flue: After numerous cases of the avian flu were discovered in wild birds, has declared a six-month animal health emergency.

Seven cases have been accounted for in Espirito Santo state, with one more found in Rio de Janeiro state.

The crisis announcement makes it more straightforward for the public authority to now acquire measures to stop the exceptionally irresistible H5N1 infection from spreading.

With annual sales of nearly $10 billion (£8 billion), Brazil is the largest exporter of chicken meat in the world.

The cases, according to the authorities, were discovered far from Brazil’s main production areas in the south.

Nonetheless, episodes in business rushes somewhere else have in some cases been seen to follow the disclosure of avian influenza cases in wild birds.

When a case is discovered on a farm, a lot of birds are often killed, which sometimes leads to trade restrictions from other countries.

As a precaution, the health emergency has been declared for 180 days across the entire nation.

Since October 2021, the world has been experiencing the deadliest bird flu outbreak ever, killing more wild birds than ever before. A few well evolved creatures are likewise getting the sickness.

Although the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) has reported “devastating impacts on animal health and welfare,” scientists are still unsure why this outbreak is proving to be so much more severe than others.

The H5N1 virus’s continued spread will need to be closely monitored, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), in order to determine whether it has mutated into a form that can spread among humans.

People who come into close contact with infected birds are the ones who get sick.

What is bird flue?

Bird flu, also known as avian influenza, is a highly infectious viral disease that primarily affects birds, particularly poultry. It is caused by influenza A viruses, which belong to the Orthomyxoviridae family. Bird flu can be transmitted to humans under certain circumstances, although it is relatively rare. In humans, it can cause severe respiratory illness and, in some cases, can be fatal.

There are several subtypes of bird flu viruses, but the most well-known and concerning subtypes are H5N1 and H7N9. These subtypes have caused outbreaks in poultry and have been transmitted to humans in different parts of the world. The virus is primarily spread through direct contact with infected birds or their droppings, as well as through contaminated surfaces, water, or feed.

The symptoms of bird flu in humans can range from mild to severe. They typically include high fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, headache, and shortness of breath. In severe cases, it can progress to pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which can be life-threatening.

Human-to-human transmission of bird flu is rare, but it can occur in limited circumstances. Most cases of human infection have been associated with close contact with infected birds, such as in live poultry markets or during poultry farming activities. However, the concern with bird flu viruses is their potential to undergo genetic changes and acquire the ability to spread easily between humans, leading to a potential pandemic.

Preventing the spread of bird flu involves implementing strict biosecurity measures in poultry farms and markets. This includes maintaining hygiene standards, separating live birds from humans, and controlling the movement of poultry and poultry products. Surveillance systems are essential for early detection of outbreaks in birds and humans to facilitate prompt response and containment measures.

In terms of treatment, antiviral medications such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) can be effective in reducing the severity and duration of illness caused by bird flu. However, the virus has shown resistance to some antiviral drugs, highlighting the need for ongoing research and development of new treatments.

Vaccines are also crucial in preventing and controlling bird flu. Vaccination programs are implemented in poultry populations to reduce the spread of the virus and minimize its impact on both animal and human health. Additionally, the development of human vaccines against potential pandemic strains of bird flu is an active area of research.

It is important to note that the risk of bird flu to the general public remains relatively low. Most human cases have occurred in individuals with close and prolonged contact with infected birds. However, monitoring and surveillance of bird flu viruses are essential to detect any changes in their behavior or potential for human-to-human transmission, allowing for timely and effective response strategies.

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