H5N8 bird flu has broken out in parts of England, including in Herefordshire. In response, the Welsh government has introduced an all-Wales ‘avian influenza prevention zone’ to prevent spread of the virus. Although the risk of it spreading to humans is low, it is still a possibility, as it is zoonotic – ie can jump from birds to humans. There are different strains, some more dangerous than others. The lethal 1918 flu originated in birds.
There was an outbreak of bird flu in 1997 in Hong Kong, and more recently, in 2017, there were some cases of H5N1 SARS bird flu that spread to humans in different parts of China. Fortunately the virus was contained and so did not develop into a pandemic. But the threat is always there. Bird flu is another coronavirus that affects the respiratory tract.
It is good that the government here have taken preventative action, but now, surely, is the time to review intensive poultry production. When so many birds are kept in such close quarters, it would only take an individual animal to affect thousands of others. The virus can be transmitted via dead as well as living birds.
Covid 19 is still not under control in the UK – how would we manage if another flu got into the human population?
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BBC News Nov 12th report
Farmers Guide Nov 11th report