Avian influenza spreading in urban centers

A small number of wild birds in New York City have been found to carry the H5N1 virus, which causes avian influenza. The study, led by the New York City Virus Hunters, shows that the infection could pass to humans even in population centers, not just in rural areas, potentially favoring the development of a new pandemic

Research led by the New York City Virus Hunters has revealed that a small number of wild birds in New York City carry the H5N1 virus, responsible for a highly pathogenic infection. This demonstrates the potential for the disease to spread to humans in urban areas, not just rural ones, potentially setting the stage for a new pandemic.

The danger posed by avian influenza has been previously highlighted. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently expressed “significant concern” about the widening spread of the H5N1 strain to new species, including humans.

According to Jeremy Farrar, the chief scientist at the United Nations health agency, the evolution of the H5N1 virus poses a significant threat. The virus has shown an extremely high mortality rate among infected individuals through contact with infected animals, though it has not yet shown the capability to transmit from person to person.

Virus found even in Antarctica and raw milk

The virus has also been detected in Antarctica and in raw milk, raising fears that the infection has the potential to spark a new pandemic, especially given that intensive farming practices continue unabated.

Until now, it was thought that the risk of infection was limited to rural areas, where human contact with wildlife is more frequent. However, the situation is already getting out of hand.

In a new study, part of a program to monitor wild birds, researchers collected and analyzed 1,927 samples from January 2022 to November 2023, detecting the H5N1 signal in six urban birds representing four different species. All positive samples came from urban wildlife rehabilitation centers, underscoring the critical role these centers can play in viral surveillance.

“It’s important to remember that finding the H5N1 virus in urban birds does not signal the start of a human influenza pandemic,” stated Christine Marizzi, the co-author of the study. “We know that the H5N1 virus has been present in New York City for about two years, and no human cases have been reported.”

Staying cautious and avoiding Wildlife

“It’s wise to be cautious and stay away from wildlife,” continues the scientist. “This also means preventing your pets from coming into close contact with wild animals. And if you must handle wildlife, it’s important to always use safe practices.”

The study was published in the Journal of Virology.

Sources: EurekAlert / Journal of Virology

The article draws upon studies published and recommendations from international institutions and/or experts. We do not make claims in the medical-scientific field and report the facts as they are. Sources are indicated at the end of each article.
Condividi su Whatsapp Condividi su Linkedin