Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Five questions and answers about the bird flu virus that has already spread to humans


Newer variants of the flu are constantly emerging, and by the way, many say that the coronavirus, like the flu, can stay with us virtually forever, or at least for hundreds of years (as an endemic), and sometimes cause regional epidemics.

Over the weekend, the appearance of another flu variant shook the mood: in Russia, it has only just been announced that seven patients became ill in an area infected with bird flu in December, and their body was found to have bird flu called H5N8.

Avian flu appears from time to time in regions, in some countries around the world, especially migratory birds tend to move from one country to another. This is how it happened not so long ago in the eastern part of Russia, where the virus spread from wild birds to farmed animals. Following the Bloomberg article, we present the key questions and answers about the case.

What happened?

In a poultry processing plant in the city of Astrakhan, seven workers became ill, in the very area where poultry herds were infected with bird flu. On February 21, the media reported that the seven affected had mild symptoms, but at the same time showed that they had contracted a type of bird flu that could infect humans. The virus also elicited an immune response in patients.

Why are they afraid of the case?

The more the flu virus spreads, the more likely it is to mutate, making it more contagious. The virus has now spread from humans to poultry, and there is no evidence yet that it could be spread between humans, by droplet infection or otherwise. Anna Popva, head of the Russian health inspectorate, said:

Over time, they part with how quickly it can mutate to be able to spread among humans.

What are the authorities doing?

The affected poultry house was quarantined, the food processed in the factory was destroyed and the plant was disinfected. Local scientists have begun to develop diagnostic tests and a vaccine against the virus as a kind of precaution. The nose of one of the 28-year-old patients was sampled and the gene map of the virus extracted from it was shared in an international medical database.

What do we know about the virus?

The influenza virus called H5N8 was discovered in Ireland in 1983 and has since emerged irregularly in waves in 2014, but then appeared in South Korea, where 600,000 poultry had to be slaughtered and subsequently caused epidemics in several regions in Europe and North America. In the circle of. The H5N8 variant has since been routinely identified in poultry flocks.

Why is H5N8 its name?

Influenza A virus, which is responsible for the outbreak of major pandemics, is classified based on two spike proteins (hemagglutinin, HA, and neuroaminidase, NA). Therefore, H5N8 virus has HA 5 and NA 8 type proteins. The H1N1 and H3N2 subtypes are also human versions of influenza.

Cover image source: Getty Images.





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