Virologist Altstein did not rule out the possibility of a new H5N1 flu mutation
The seals that died in the Caspian were infected with bird flu. These are the provisional data from the investigation into the unprecedented death of the seal in December last year, when the sea carried nearly 2,500 carcasses of dead animals to the coast of Dagestan. According to the director of the DSU Institute of Ecology and Sustainable Development, Alimurad Hajiyev, the animal tissue samples tested positive for bird flu and there are reasons to believe that it is a deadly strain of H5N1, which is extremely dangerous for birds and animals. .
Please note that there is no exact confirmation that it is precisely the H5N1 bird flu. However, in late spring – early summer on the island of Maly Zhemchuzhny, a favorite place for transportation of Caspian seals, wild birds died en masse, and then the fact of the “guilt” of the H5N1 variant. It is possible that by winter this virus has caused the mass death of the Caspian seal, which is listed in the Red Book.
Outbreaks of H5N1 avian influenza have plagued the world for the past year. In the United States, more than 58 million farmed birds have died from the virus, and brown bears have become infected even more. In the fall of 2022, 37 bears died in Colorado, then cases of bear infection reached the state of Montana. The animals were disoriented, partially blind, and sick bears had to be euthanized. The virus has also been found in foxes, skunks, and raccoons. In the spring the largest outbreak of H5N1 flu occurred on a mink farm in Spain, 50,000 mink underwent surgery. Before Spain, foxes were killed in the Netherlands. In September-October last year in the Chelyabinsk and Kurgan regions, people encountered incomprehensible behavior of roe deer, they ran randomly and fell on the road. The H5N1 influenza virus was not confirmed then, however, they did not find out what type of infection killed the animals. And now – seals on the Caspian coast.
IS AN EPIDEMIC BETWEEN HUMANS POSSIBLE?
– The transition of the H5N1 avian influenza virus to humans cannot be ruled out, – virologist, doctor of medical sciences, Professor Anatoly Altshtein told KP.RU. “People don’t get infected often, but they get infected. This usually happens on farms where an epidemic of the disease has occurred among birds, and then with close contact a person has a large viral load.
And if you do get infected, the outlook is bleak. About 60% of known cases of human infection with the H5N1 strain ended in death. Fortunately, H5N1 avian influenza is transmitted extremely poorly and inefficiently from person to person.
– In the upper respiratory tract of a person, the temperature is too low for the virus to actively multiply and further transmit. But the “sword of Damocles” of a pandemic caused by an extremely dangerous group of avian influenza viruses, to which H5N1 belongs, hangs over humanity. It is impossible to exclude a random mutation that will change the properties of the virus in an unfavorable way for humans, says the scientist.