Saturday, January 28, 2017

Uganda faces an avian influenza outbreak

Uganda recently reported an outbreak of bird flu and is taken extra precautions to avoid a transmission to humans. There were hundreds of birds that were found dead around the shores of Lake Victoria, which caused the health officials and leaders in Uganda and even Kenya to go on high alert.

As we know, there are a number of different forms of influenza that can get into birds and humans. Obviously some strains are more dangerous than others and this form of bird influenza appears to be very deadly. With birds, the influenza is typically caused by influenza A viruses, which are classified/names by their proteins of hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N).

While avian influenza will typically not make its way to infecting humans, transmission is a possibility and that is why Uganda leaders are very cautious at the moment. Direct contact with a bird that is exposed to the virus or even indirect contact could lead to human infection and that can then lead to human-human transmission. So far there have luckily been no human cases reported. Let us hope no cases arise!

-Jeanette Rios (‘18)

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