The H5N1 avian flu worries the WHO “hugely”, why and what do we know about this virus? : Current Woman Le MAG

This Thursday, April 18, the World Health Organization expressed its “huge concern” with respect to the H5N1 strain of the Avian Flu, according to Agence France Presse (AFP). This is due to the increase in the number of species affected by this virus, including humans, as well as its lethality level, which amounts to 52%. According to figures from the UN organization, of the 889 human cases of avian flu reported and spread across 23 countries, 463 people have died.

“For several years there has been a resurgence of avian flu around the world, explains Brigitte Autran, president of the Health Risk Monitoring and Anticipation Committee (COVARS) to franceinfo this April 18, 2024, and she specifies, this is the reason why France has protected its birds by vaccinating since autumn 2023 breeding ducks. But according to her, this What is worrying is that “the whole world is affected, everywhere on the planet”.

In the world, more and more species are therefore contaminated by H5N1 bird flu.The fact that the virus passes to mammals means that the virus will adapt to humans because we are a species of mammal, therefore there is a risk of transmission to humans”,

It is human transmission that the WHO fears, even if the number of cases “remains rare”, and it “There is currently no evidence of human-to-human transmission of H5N1.”

H5N1 avian flu: what is this disease and how is it transmitted?

First of all, it is important to look at what avian flu is. According to Public Health France, this is “disease caused in humans by influenza viruses infecting birds (avian influenza viruses, AI) which transgress the species barrier and infect humans. Humans can be infected by several avian influenza viruses (notably H5N1, H7N9 and H9N2 subtypes).

Regarding transmission, the Institut Pasteur website explains that “Currently, transmission of the virus only occurs from animals to humans, but health authorities fear the virus will evolve into a form that can be transmitted from humans to humans, opening the door to a pandemic.”

Avian flu: what are the recommendations?

According to Public Health France, “preventing the risk of transmission of avian influenza viruses to humans relies on the wearing of personal protective equipment when handling sick or dead birds”to know :

  • waterproof gloves,
  • protective glasses,
  • an FFP2 mask),
  • wear a surgical mask or simple mask (preferably FFP2),
  • wash and disinfect your hands with a hydro-alcoholic solution,
  • change before returning home.

Avian flu: what are the symptoms?

According to the Health Organization, during an infection, symptoms of the disease can be:

  • conjunctivitis (irritation of the eyes),
  • flu-like symptoms,
  • severe respiratory disease,
  • gastrointestinal symptoms (rarely),
  • neurological symptoms (rarely).

Specialists point out that in some cases, the disease can be asymptomatic. For the diagnosis to be made, the WHO emphasizes that laboratory tests are necessary.


  • AFP
  • franceinfo
  • avian flu – Institut Pasteur
  • Avian flu: what are the right reflexes to face the risk of exposure? – Public Health France
  • Avian influenza A(H5N1) – WHO
  • Everything you need to know about France’s avian influenza vaccination plan, Ministry of Agriculture

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