About The H5N1 Virus
In recent years there has been an outbreak of the H5N1 virus affecting birds in Asia, Europe and Africa, the mortality rates being high. Many cases of people infected have been registered but the risk lyes in a possible development of a new and more powerful virus. This can happen as the H5N1 virus is replicating constantly and could even mix with other known viruses like the human flu virus.
The influenza A viruses are the main causes of avian influenza or bird flu. The disease is carried out by wild birds without affecting them. However, for domestic poultry the manifestations can range from mild to severe which are lethal. The strain that has produced most deaths in both poultry and humans around the globe is the H5N1, highly pathogenic and easily transmissible. Other subtypes include H9 and H7 but, they are less capable of severe outbreaks.
Moreover, in the past the H5N1 virus has been detected in various parts of the world like South Korea, Asia, Europe and the Middle East proving that avian influenza is fairly easy transmissible. The worry comes from migrating birds which can carry the infection to any continent without a chance of ensuring protective measures. For a country that has been affected by this flu exiting quarantine is permitted three months after tests carried out indicate the virus is not longer present.
Furthermore, research shows that the H5N1 strain is breaking boundaries and can pass to humans. Bird to human transmission is possible in communities where people are in close connection with their domestic birds. Other risk places include poultry farms and markets because the virus persists on surfaces and in secretions. Even more, there have been situations of human to human transmission but in isolated areas and the disease hasn't spread further. The source of the contamination was traced to domesticated birds living in close quarters with their owners. Symptoms of bird flu can range from conjunctivitis and flu manifestations (fever, sore throat, cough) to more severe ones such as pneumonia, acute respiratory infections, viral pneumonia which can eventually lead to death.
To conclude, it can be stated that, the current information about the H5N1 virus is disturbing and increases the need for effective medication to prevent the spread of the disease and the death of the affected people. Even more, the capacity of the virus to modify its genetic structure and to combine with other viruses makes it imperative to create a vaccine sooner than ever.