Highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses have spread around the world, especially in the past two years. The virus can be deadly to bird populations, as explained by the authors of an in-depth study published in Science by scientists from the University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne.
The authors say that since 2020 the virus has already caused several mortality events in wild populations, threatening in particular the specimens already considered in danger. Between 2020 and 2021, an estimated 15 million chickens have died or been killed due to the infection.
Several outbreaks of avian influenza with highly pathogenic virus have been reported in Canada and the United States, which could become a global problem.
Research authors said: "The wave of avian cases is unprecedented for the rapid spread the alarming frequency of outbreaks in poultry and wild birds poses a potential threat to humans.
To avoid pandemic scenarios we suggest that international organizations to health and agriculture deepen the dynamics, causes and motivations behind avian influenza outbreaks, especially in environments characterized by human presence.
Continuous investments are also needed in the monitoring and surveillance of wild species. adaptation could increase transmission capacity and easily infect humans as well. This is why it is essential to continue monitoring animals and their health."
Avian flu therapy
Given the economic and health significance of the disease, no therapy is implemented but interventions are made with eradication measures. Antiviral drugs are sometimes effective in both preventing and treating the disease.
In the future, however, antiviral drugs may be inefficient - many of these drugs were being given to chickens in China as early as the early 1990s, and the virus may have developed some sort of resistance to these types of drugs.
Several new medicines have been developed in recent years. Work is underway on the preparation of these medicines but the work is complicated due to the mutation of the virus, which in some cases can become resistant to the medicines and make these medicines less effective. One of the antivirals, Tamiflu, is suspected at various sites of inducing depression and suicide.