The pathogenic strains, which infect humans, have a mortality rate of up to 100 percent in as little as 48 hours.
The first bird flu outbreak in six years has hit a duck breeding farm in the U.K. The Telegraph reports that thousands of birds have been slaughtered; separate cases have been reported in Germany and the Netherlands. Currently, there is no risk to humans from this outbreak, but some are concerned that the flu may spread to nearby turkey farms and cause a shortage of turkeys for the holidays.
Additional cases may come as wild birds are able to catch and spread the disease all over the country. Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens has stated that farmers and veterinarians all over the U.K. should be on alert for signs of the disease. Fortunately, the farm at the center of this outbreak has biosecurity measures in place that lower the risk of spreading avian flu.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are some strains of avian influenza that can cause serious infections in humans, but it does not appear that the strain in this outbreak is one of those. The pathogenic strains, which infect humans, have a mortality rate of up to 100 percent in as little as 48 hours. Fortunately, that is not the case this time. However, many are concerned about the potential impact to local and global economies as well as trade.
The most recent strain of avian influenza to hit humans is H7N9. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that this strain was seen mostly in China, with the first case outside the country in February of this year. That case was in a traveler in Malaysia and that person had come from an the affected area of China. Thus far, that strain has not been linked to any illnesses in birds or people in the U.S.