Experts Raise Alarm Bells Over Deadly Bird Flu

( – Avian influenza, also known as bird flu or HN51, could become the next deadly pandemic to affect the human population, according to some medical experts. Concerns have been raised about the virus’ ability to be passed between species after an unidentified Texan became infected with the illness, thought to have been transmitted by cattle.

This incident of cow-to-human transmission of bird flu resulted in an emergency meeting being called between several researchers, medical professionals, and members of government agencies, with experts discussing the likelihood of a full-blown pandemic and what steps should be taken. One researcher into the disease, Dr. Suresh Kuchipudi, told the press that bird flu was already high on the list of potential pandemics, and that recent developments ought to prompt preparations to be made for such an eventuality.

Avian flu has killed millions of birds in recent years worldwide but has presented less of a threat to humans as there has so far been no evidence of the disease passing from person-to-person, although it can be fatal to the small number of people who catch it, with over half of the known human cases resulting in death for the patient. The fear amongst some experts is that the virus will continue to mutate and adapt in such a manner that it becomes more transmissible amongst humans but without a drop in fatality rate, although as with all viruses, nobody can be certain how the virus may change over time.

Prof. James Wood, Co-Director of the UK’s Cambridge Infectious Diseases, has urged people not to panic, saying that avian flu has in fact been detected in a very small number of humans, despite many years of the virus’ existence, and so many people coming into contact with infected birds. The Principal Deputy Director of the CDC, Dr. Nirav Shah, said that although the agency was taking the matter “very seriously,” current risk to the general population “remains low”. The World Health Organization has said that it will continue to liaise with the CDC over the matter.

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