Bird Flu Pandemic ‘Very Likely’, Warns Former CDC Director

A bird flu pandemic would likely be considerably more deadly than Covid-19


3 Minutes Read

Former CDC director Robert Redfield Robert Redfield has said that a bird flu pandemic is likely - Media Credit: Abaca Press / Alamy Stock Photo

The former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that bird flu is “very likely” to be the next human pandemic, with a mortality rate of up to 50 percent.

Robert Redfield, who headed the CDC during the Covid pandemic, told News Nation that “it’s not a question of if, it’s more of a question of when we will have a bird flu pandemic.”

Read more: Walrus Dies Of Bird Flu In First Recorded Case

While Covid has a mortality rate of 0.6 percent, Redfield pointed out that this figure is between 25 and 50 percent for bird flu. Previous small-scale outbreaks of various bird flu strains killed up to 60 percent of people who became infected.

Scientists have warned that every time bird flu jumps to a new species, it has an opportunity to mutate into something that can spread between humans.

“Once the virus gains the ability to attach to the human receptor and then go human to human, that’s when you’re going to have the pandemic,” Redfield said.

Farming animals spreading disease

cows being milked
Chanidapha – Cows across the US have become infected with bird flu

Redfield’s warning comes as bird flu has spread among cow herds in the US. Officials have now warned that humans are likely playing a role in transmitting the disease between animals.

Bird flu was first detected in dairy cows in several US states in March, and it has now spread to at least 102 herds across the country. The cows are infected with the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of the virus, particles of which have been found in “astronomical numbers” in raw milk.

Read more: Bird Flu Has Reached Antarctica – Is Your Diet Killing Penguins?

The initial infections are thought to have been caused by wild birds bringing the virus to farms. But according to a new report by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), humans have most likely helped to spread it between farms as cows, workers, and vehicles move between them. People who work at both dairy farms and chicken and turkey farms are likely the cause for cases of bird flu having spilled back over from cows to farmed birds in Michigan.

Several farm workers have since become infected with bird flu and recovered.

Other strains of the virus also pose a risk. Earlier in June, a man in Mexico died after catching H5N2, a strain never recorded in people before. It’s unclear how he became infected.

Read more: Woman In China Becomes First Human To Die From H3N8 Bird Flu

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