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Could avian flu cause the next human pandemic?

Could avian flu cause the next human pandemic?

Podcast from The Economist

February 15th 2023, The Economist explored why the spread of the virus from birds to mammals could put humans at risk. Are we prepared for an influenza pandemic?

Over the past 18 months, the largest-ever recorded avian influenza outbreak has decimated bird populations around the world. But recently bird flu has spread to mammals. Last week, Peru reported the deaths of 585 sea lions. If the virus has mutated to enable mammal-to-mammal transmission, that could be an intermediate step towards human-to-human transmission. How worrying is this threat?

Susan Davies, CEO of the Scottish Seabird Centre, describes how the H5N1 avian flu has affected populations of wild birds. Ian Brown of Britain’s Animal and Plant Health Agency explains why the dynamics of this outbreak are concerning scientists. Plus, they asked Marion Koopmans, head of viroscience at Erasmus MC and coordinator of One Health PACT, why she’s more worried than ever about a human influenza pandemic. 

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Source: The Economist

Date: March 3, 2023