A confirmed case of Bird Flu has arisen in a North Yorkshire Duck farm, resulting in a moral panic across the UK. It is confirmed that within the past week, 3 people in Egypt have died due to contracting the deadly virus, H5N1 Avian Influenza.
Once again, this raises panic about the health threats posed to humans. Chloe Churchill investigates
The biggest risk comes from long periods of time and close contact with infected birds. Meaning, farmers who need to handle and muck out poultry are most likely to catch it. Scientists are concerned that the virus may one day mutate and spread rapidly. A strain named H5N1 recently had the experts particularly concerned about a global outbreak.
H5N1 has killed 60% of those infected. The UK government began stockpiling drugs in preparation, to treat more than half of the British population.
Between the years 2003 to 2014, there were 667 confirmed human cases of the H5N1 infection in 15 different countries, this lead to 393 deaths.
They symptoms of Bird Flu include; a temperature, cough, headache, chills, aching muscles and a runny nose. These are exactly similar to symptoms of other types of flu.
The most infamous flu pandemic was the 1918 Spanish Flu, this killed millions and it is said that it probably came from birds.
It is apparent that a duck farm in Yorkshire has been tainted by the virus, showing to be the same strain as the one in Germany and the Netherlands. On Sunday a chicken farm in the Netherlands tested positive to a highly contagious strand of Bird Flu, resulting in a three day ban of exportation on all poultry products.
Avian Influenza, or Bird Flu as it is commonly known first shot into the headlines in 2008. This was due to a confirmation that a lethal strain of Bird Flu was found in the UK, after a test was took out on 3 dead Swans that were discovered in the Chesil Beach area, Dorset. This caused a massive panic across the Nation.
Bird Flu has not been heard for in a few years after the global pandemic spread about, causing worry and stress in millions. The next round of the pandemic has just now arrived. This is the first case of Bird Flu since the 2008 case, in the UK. Not only are the public worrying about the deadly Ebola, they have now got the stress of Avian Influenza, or Bird Flu as it is commonly known.
So, is there a possibility that this virus could spread to humans? Health experts say that the possibility is low, but all virus’ are unpredictable. The NHS website states “Bird Flu, or avian flu, is an infectious viral illness that spreads among birds. In rare cases, it can affect humans.”
Some Bird Flu strains, such as H7N7 and H9N2 have infected people, but these have rarely caused any serious illnesses.
The H5N1 strain of Bird Flu has killed more than 400 people, mainly in South-east Asia, this is since it’s first appearance in 2003. Another strain H7N9, has claimed more than 170 lives since its emergence in 2013.
A Public Health England Spokesman stated “Public Health England are assisting Defra in the investigation of an avian influenza outbreak at a duck breeding farm in Yorkshire.”
The owner of the Yorkshire duck farm has apparently been selling his produce to supermarkets such as Tesco, M&S, Aldi and Lidl. Meaning that the public could may well have been consuming virus enriched meat. All 6,000 ducks from the farm have been took to be gassed to prevent any further spreading of bird flu. This is not something any farmer wants to see, but it is needed to stop the spreading of the virus.