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Bird flu that infected Texas man has mutated to spread more easily, CDC reveals — as three pet cats die from virus and biggest egg producer in US is hit with outbreak – report

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Health officials report that the strain of bird flu that infected a person in Texas has mutated to spread more easily, DailyMail reported. This raises concerns about its potential to affect more people.

CDC finds mutation in bird flu sample linked to Mammalian hosts, assures low risk to public: Mutation not found in cattle or wild birds

The CDC mentioned that tests on the H5N1 sample revealed a mutation linked to the virus adapting to mammalian hosts. However, they assured that these mutations were minor and the risk to the public was low. This particular mutation was not found in cattle or wild birds, with officials suggesting it might have developed in the patient during the development of eye infection, according to report.

Reports indicate that three pet cats in Texas have died from bird flu. The cats contracted the virus on dairy farms.

Additionally, the largest egg producer in the US has confirmed the presence of bird flu in its flock. There are plans to cull nearly 2 million chickens. There’s growing apprehension that the farm outbreaks could disrupt the supply chain or inflate the prices of eggs and dairy products.

These developments come at a time of mounting worry that H5N1, which has already caused a pandemic in the animal kingdom, could similarly affect humans. The EU’s Food Safety Agency (EFSA) cautioned on Wednesday that if the virus becomes transmissible between people, it could trigger a widespread bird flu pandemic.

Experts warn of virus mutations amid concerns over Avian Influenza’s jump to mammals

Infectious disease experts caution that each infection in mammals or humans increases the likelihood of the virus acquiring new mutations that could enable it to infect people.

Dr. Francois Balloux, an epidemiologist in the UK, warned recently that the situation “might change for the worse, eventually.” However, he also mentioned, “People not professionally involved in pandemic prevention/mitigation being worried/feeling miserable now won’t make any material difference to what may hit us, except that their life would suck, far more than it should.”

Dr. Peter Hotez, a virologist at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, informed that these cases serve as “a reminder that avian influenza is circulating and continuously jumping to new mammalian hosts.” He added, “So far, the subsequent jumps to humans are still uncommon and not producing severe illness,” but he believes “this could change eventually.”

The CDC stated that the mutation detected in the virus infecting a dairy farm worker in Texas had been recorded previously and did not lead to a major outbreak at that time. This change, found on the PB2 gene related to how the virus replicates itself, has not been observed in wild poultry or infections in cows.

About the author

Brendan Taylor

Brendan Taylor was a TV news producer for 5 and a half years. He is an experienced writer. Brendan covers Breaking News at Insider Paper.

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