The coronavirus is a highly contagious and deadly disease that turned into a pandemic for us humans. Now, a highly contagious and deadly avian flu virus is devastating the chickens on poultry farms, and even infecting wild birds, such as Bald eagles. Tonight, the Perpetual Notion Machine welcomes Adel Talaat to talk about this avian flu outbreak. Adel is a microbiologist in pathobiological sciences in the School of Veterinary Medicine at UW-Madison.
Of the highest pathogenic versions of avian flu, H5 and H7 seem to be the most deadly. This current flu outbreak seems to be a variant of H5N1, which is a strain that has been around since the early 2000’s. Like most flu viruses, and COVID-19, this avian flu infects the bird’s respiratory system. Since they don’t have the capacity to expel mucus, the birds often die within a day or two.
Adel says that humans can be infected by any type of avian flu, but so far, no one in the U.S. has been infected with this pathogenic strain. In cases of infection in the past, the symptoms in people have been mild. But Adel mentions that a coronavirus version of avian flu does exist, but has not mutated into a lethal variant.
Adel has been working on a vaccine for this avian flu variant. They are ready to start testing on infected and uninfected chickens, but they have to go through government channels different than the FDA for human vaccine trials and general distribution. It’s gonna take time.
For more information, check out the CDC Bird Flu website with links to resources, and for Wisconsin check out the DATCP Avian Influenza website.
Image Courtesy: Zoe Schaeffer via Unsplash
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