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H5N1 avian influenza UPSC NOTE

 Recent outbreak of H5N1 avian influenza (bird flu) in dairy cattle 

in the United States.

  • The outbreak began in late March 2024.

  • With the first detection in dairy cattle reported in the Texas Panhandle region.

  • The virus has spread to multiple states.

  • With at least 36 herds in 9 states testing positive for H5N1 as of early May.

  • This is the first time H5N1 has been found in cattle in the United States

  • It raises concerns about the potential spread of the virus to other animals and even humans.

  • There has been one confirmed human case of H5N1 associated with this outbreak, reported in a dairy worker on April 1st.

  • Health officials consider the public health risk to be low

  • Extensive testing has been conducted on milk and milk products, and so far.

  • No viable H5N1 virus has been found.

  • The USDA and HHS are working together to understand the outbreak, trace animal movements, and implement measures to limit the spread of the virus

  • This includes restrictions on the movement of dairy cattle in some areas.

The possibility of cattle acting as a host for the virus and potentially contributing to the creation of new flu strains that could infect humans

  • Recent outbreaks show cattle can be infected with H5N1.

  • Though it doesn't seem to cause severe illness in them compared to birds.

  • A concerning aspect is that cattle cells, particularly in the mammary glands (udder).

  • It have receptors for both human and avian influenza viruses. 

  • This raises the possibility of cattle becoming "mixing vessels" where different flu strains can swap genetic material and create new, potentially pandemic viruses.

  • Pigs have been known to be such mixing vessels in the past, contributing to past flu pandemics.

  • So far, there has only been one confirmed human case associated with the outbreak, likely due to direct contact with infected cattle.

  • For a new flu strain to easily infect humans, it would likely need to undergo further mutations.

  • Public health officials are closely monitoring the situation and taking steps to minimize the spread of the virus among cattle.

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: H5N1 avian influenza UPSC NOTE
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