“There is a risk that the virus will become endemic in Europe”, warns an expert

Europe is experiencing an unprecedented avian flu epidemic, both in terms of its scale and the number of cases: nearly 50 million birds have already been slaughtered and 3,500 cases have been recorded in wild birds, as well as the first cases of human infection in the EU. According to researcher Elisa Pérez Ramírez, from the Animal Health Research Center (CISA-INIA-CSIC), in Spain, “it is still not known what is driving this unprecedented expansion”.

“Further studies are needed to find out if this is due to the characteristics of the virus or if it is more related to ecology and environmental conditions. The expansion is global. In North America there have also been outbreaks important”, underlined the specialist, in statements to the Spanish newspaper “El Mundo”. “One of the hypotheses is that the temperatures and humidity have affected the migratory changes of the birds. The drought of this year has forced the birds to congregate in small swamps, which promotes transmission.

“Human cases have been very sporadic given that there are millions of birds affected. But we must be very vigilant because the virus warns of its potential”, he stressed, guaranteeing that there is a risk of the virus becoming endemic. “There is clearly that risk. If this variant continues to circulate as successfully, there is a high risk that it will become endemic in wild birds. And that has a lot of implications for the economy, animal health…”

“According to the latest ECDC report, the risk to the general population is still considered low. What has changed is the risk estimate for people in contact with birds, which is now moderate. We don’t know how it’s going to evolve but it doesn’t look like it’s going to improve on what we’ve seen so far,” he concluded.

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