Thursday, November 27, 2014

Bird Flue Outbreaks

Two outbreaks of bird flu, the highly contagious and deadly H5N1 strain has been reported in India in the southern state of Kerla, one killing 15,000 infected ducks in Kottayam and another 500 in nearby Alappuzha. This is notable because, unlike most strands of bird flu, humans can catch H5N1. In 2005-2006 an outbreak occurred which spread to Asia, Africa, and Europe, resulting in the deaths of over 400 humans and millions of birds. Other strains, such as the H5N8 strain, which is currently in Europe and resulted in the killing of ducks and chickens in Germany, the Netherlands, and England are not as serious as they cannot spread to humans.

Outbreaks in animals do not always lead to outbreaks in humans, but an outbreak in humans is potentially deadly. Several vaccines are available and are in the United State’s national vaccine stockpile for emergency use, but are not a regularly given vaccine.

Madeleine Bousquet


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