Chinese virologists Weifeng Shi and George Gao said that the world is facing a pandemic of H5N8 avian influenza. The scientists published the work in the journal Science.
They noted that the new strain was first detected in a duck in China back in 2010. In 2014, there were outbreaks in Japan and South Korea. In 2016, the flu was found in birds in India, Russia, Mongolia, the United States, and some European countries. By 2020, outbreaks had been reported in 46 countries.
The authors note that the infected workers did not have any symptoms (they were tested for safety reasons after the mass death of chickens).
There was also no indication that the virus was transmitted from one person to another.
However, scientists are alarmed that the virus will be able to mutate: from ducks, it quickly moved to other bird species. Then it was found on a man.
Shi and Gao write that it is not too late to prevent a new pandemic. Strict supervision of farms, bird markets, and wild birds is required. This will help slow down the spread of the virus. Pharmaceutical companies will have time to develop a vaccine.
Earlier I reported that an outbreak of avian flu was recorded at a Russian poultry farm last year. The chickens were destroyed, and the people were quarantined. Seven infected poultry farm workers recovered quickly.
This was the world's first case of human infection with the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus AH5N8.