Scientists Issue Warning Over H5N1 Bird Flu

( – On April 1, the CDC issued a press release confirming that a Texas dairy worker contracted the H5N1 variant of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (aka the bird flu). The statement noted that his only symptom involved the development of eye redness but the CDC didn’t upgrade its threat assessment regarding the disease from “low.” However, a group of scientists recently issued a warning over the H5N1 bird flu.

A group of virus researchers led by Suresh Kuchipudi, PhD, MVSc, MBA, spoke with journalists after pharmaceutical industry consultant John Fulton called for a meeting to discuss their concerns related to H5N1.

Kuchipudi told reporters the H5N1 bird flu had topped the pandemic list for several years, “probably decades.” He cautioned that the current situation was coming precariously close to “this virus potentially causing a pandemic.”

The avian flu researcher confirmed that health officials had already detected the H5N1 virus spreading worldwide. He also cautioned that the strain had already demonstrated its ability to “infect a [wide] range of mammals, including humans.” Kuchipudi said H5N1 presented the planet’s “greatest pandemic threat.”

Fulton echoed that sentiment. He said H5N1 had the potential to trigger a pandemic larger than the last one, which ended up shutting down businesses and schools for months and trashing the US economy along the way. Fulton cautioned that bird flu had the potential to devastate the planet if it mutated and maintained its high fatality rate.

The World Health Organization’s latest weekly avian influenza report confirmed a high mortality rate among humans infected with H5N1. The update noted that four countries within the Western Pacific Region had reported 254 cases of human infection. One hundred and forty-one individuals died, constituting a mortality rate of 56%.

On a more positive note, other scientists who attended the meeting expressed skepticism that H5N1 would present a global or even regional threat. Likewise, the CDC issued an update on April 2 confirming that its threat assessment related to the disease remained low. The report stressed that current medications and available vaccines remained effective against the bird flu.

On April 3, during her daily briefing, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that administration officials were monitoring the situation.

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