Does contact with infected animals put humans in danger?

Does contact with infected animals put humans in danger?
Does contact with infected animals put humans in danger?
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Experts analyze whether the virus has undergone mutations that facilitate infection in humans

Photo: unsplash

A case of bird flu was confirmed in Texas in an individual who had contact with contaminated dairy cows, as reported by local authorities last Monday (1).

The incident adds an alarming chapter to an outbreak that has already impacted millions of birds and marine mammals around the world and recently reached livestock in the United States. This is the second detection of the H5N1 virus in humans in the country, with the first case recorded in 2022.

Are humans in danger?

Experts are analyzing the genetic sequence of the virus found in infected birds, cows and humans to determine whether the H5N1 has developed mutations that facilitate its transmission between people.

To date, there is no evidence that the virus has some characteristic that specifically facilitates the path of transmission between humans. However, this does not mean that more infections like the one recently reported will not occur.

“There is a risk of infecting humans, yes. But we already knew that, so the concern is not new”, said Robson Reis, infectious disease doctor and professor at the Bahiana School of Medicine, to Byte.

“Some subtypes of the virus end up using some animal hosts. As it circulates among animals, they acquire other characteristics and, through mutations, new viruses emerge,” he commented.

Recently, a sample of the virus isolated from a Chilean patient showed two mutations compatible with adaptation to mammalian infection. However, these mutations have previously been identified without the virus evolving into a transmissible form between humans.

The most recently infected patient, who was in direct contact with contaminated cattle, manifested conjunctivitis as an initial symptom, and is recovering after treatment with antivirals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Although the disease is often lethal to birds, in cows it appears to only cause mild symptoms, such as loss of appetite, low-grade fever and a significant reduction in milk production. So far, authorities have chosen not to slaughter affected flocks, a common practice in cases of infection in birds.

*With information from The New York Times.

Source: Byte Editorial

The article is in Portuguese

Tags: contact infected animals put humans danger

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