Viruses Treatment Articles

New Bird Flu Outbreak In Japan Is H5N1

October 31, 2017

Authorities in Japan have confirmed that a new bird flu outbreak in Hyuga, southern Miyazaki prefecture, was caused by H5N infection, the virulent bird flu virus strain. Another possible H5N case has also appeared in a farm in Takahashi, Okayama prefecture, where 22 chickens have died during this weekend.

The Takahashi farm has about 12,000 chickens.

News of this second outbreak appeared just hours after the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry confirmed H5N1 in the first outbreak. Authorities are asking bordering farms to stop moving livestock.

50,000 chickens are being culled in the area where the the first outbreak occured.

H5N1 infection among birds was detected in Japan in February 2003. Since then there have been occasional outbreaks.

Scientists worry that the H5N1 bird flu virus strain may one day mutate and become easily human transmissible. The most likely way it could do this would be to infect a human who already has the normal flu. The bird flu virus would then have the opportunity to exchange genetic information with the normal human flu virus and acquire its ability to spread easily from person-to-person. If this happened we could then be facing a serious global flu pandemic.

So far, humans do not catch bird flu easily from birds, and for a human to infect another human is extremely rare.