Cambodian Authorities Reports Two Cases Of Avian Flu

An influenza virus strain known as H5N1 is extremely contagious and has the potential to infect both humans and birds.

Cambodian Authorities Reports Two Cases Of Avian Flu

Avian flu, commonly also known as bird flu or avian influenza, is a virus that mostly affects birds but can also infect people and other animals. Contact with infected birds, their saliva, nasal secretions, or feces can spread the virus.

Depending on how contagious they are, avian flu viruses can be classified as low pathogenicity (LPAI) or high pathogenicity (HPAI). LPAI viruses often have low mortality rates and just weak or nonexistent symptoms in birds. On the other hand, HPAI viruses have the potential to infect people and can result in serious illness and significant fatality rates in birds.

Human avian flu symptoms can range from mild to severe and frequently include fever, coughing, sore throats, and muscle pains. Severe cases may cause pneumonia, respiratory failure, and even death.

Measures like surveillance, early detection, quarantine, killing diseased birds, and bird vaccines are used to prevent and manage avian flu in both birds and people. Although avian flu occurrences in humans are uncommon, they can be serious, so it’s crucial to remember to avoid close contact with infected animals.

History of H5N1

An influenza virus strain known as H5N1 is extremely contagious and has the potential to infect both humans and birds. It was discovered in birds in South Africa for the first time in 1961, and since then, it has spread to numerous other nations in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.

H5N1 can cause serious respiratory illnesses in people, and it has a high fatality rate, with deaths accounting for about 60% of all reported cases. Although rare, H5N1 transmission from person to person typically results through close contact with sick birds or their secretions.

The virus is a worry because it could mutate and spread more quickly among people, possibly causing a pandemic throughout the globe. Monitoring and limiting the spread of H5N1 is therefore a crucial public health concern.

Composition:

The influenza A virus, or subtype H5N1, is a member of the Orthomyxoviridae family. The virus has a distinctive structure that consists of a protein sheath surrounding an inner core of viral RNA. Hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N), two different types of proteins, make up the protein coat. These proteins are present on the virus surface and are crucial for viral entrance into host cells and the production of new virus particles.

The hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N) proteins, which are a particular combination in the H5N1 subtype, are what give the virus its name. The N1 protein aids the virus in releasing freshly produced viral particles from infected cells, whereas the H5 protein enables the virus to connect to host cells in the respiratory tract.

Due to alterations in the viral genome, the precise makeup of H5N1 can change over time. This may have an impact on the virus’s capacity to afflict many species and spread disease. It’s crucial to keep an eye out for any changes in the virus’s makeup that might influence its virulence or capacity to propagate between humans.

Outbreak:

Wild bird populations are being decimated by avian influenza virus, H5N1, which is also harming mammals like minks, badgers, pigs, and bears.

Unprecedented animal outbreaks of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A(H5N1) have been reported from Chile in recent months of 2023. An (H5N1) avian influenza virus has been found in domestic poultry, farm poultry, wild birds, and marine animals.

Compared to previous viruses that have recently produced flu pandemics, such as the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic, the H5N1 virus has a greater fatality rate. According to researchers, the consequences may be disastrous if this new lineage of H5N1 were to successfully transmit between humans.

WHO was informed about a human illness caused by the avian influenza A(H5) virus in the Antofagasta Region by the Chilean Ministry of Health on March 29, 2023. This is the first case of avian influenza A(H5) infection in humans to be reported in Chile and the third case overall in the Region of the Americas.

The virus is exhibiting some signs of mammalian adaptation, and by spreading in a mammalian host, it is one step closer to developing biological traits that would make it more likely to spread among humans.

To better understand how the virus is spreading and changing, researchers are closely observing all significant mammalian outbreaks. Authorities noted an outbreak in Peru in March 2023, where thousands of sea lions, up to 3% of the population, had perished from the H5N1 virus. The virus is currently being investigated for any potential sea lion-to-sea lion transfer.

Prevention:

A variety of precautions are taken to lower the risk of exposure to the virus in order to prevent H5N1 infection. Here are some methods for avoiding H5N1:

  1. Keep your distance from sick or dead birds: The H5N1 virus is usually disseminated through contact with infected birds, therefore it’s crucial to keep your distance.
  2. Maintain good hygiene: Frequent hand washing with soap and water can help lower the risk of infection, especially after handling birds or going to live poultry markets.
  3. Thoroughly cook the poultry: If the virus is present, killing it by cooking the poultry to an internal temperature of at least 165°F (74°C) can assist.
  4. Steer clear of live bird markets and other locations where live poultry is sold if you reside in an area where H5N1 has been reported.
  5. Wear protective equipment: Wearing gloves, a mask, and goggles is recommended for people who work with birds or come into close contact with infected people.
  6. Vaccinate yourself: H5N1 vaccines have been created and can help stop the virus’s spread in both humans and birds. A vaccine may be advised if you have a high risk of contracting the virus.
  7. Keep yourself informed: Keep updated with news regarding H5N1 and any local outbreaks. To assist in halting the virus’s spread, heed the advice of public health authorities.

Vaccine:

Several countries have produced and authorized the use of H5N1 vaccines. These vaccinations are made to activate the immune system and cause the body to create antibodies that can identify and combat the virus.

Most H5N1 vaccines are based on inactivated or weakened versions of the virus or particular virus parts, like the H5 protein. They are given by injection, and for the majority of them, two doses are needed to produce complete immunity.

H5N1 vaccines have been created using both modern cell-based and recombinant DNA technology in addition to the conventional egg-based method. In the case of a pandemic, these techniques may enable quicker and more adaptable vaccine manufacture.

The article is jointly authored by Rida Anjum Sandhu and Dr. Muhammad Mustafa.

By Muhammad Mustafa

Assistant Professor Forman Christian College University, Lahore Pakistan