Bird flu pandemic fears grow as thousands of animals die from deadly virus

The fears of a bird flu pandemic are growing after thousands of sea lions and foxes have been found dead from the deadly virus.

And it comes just a few weeks after the first mammal to human transmission was confirmed, killing an 11-year-old girl.

The Cambodian girl first became ill just six days before her death, and suffered from a fever, cough and sore throat.

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Her death was confirmed by the country's Communicable Disease Control Department, who said that the girl from the Prey Veng province “tested positive for H5N1”.

And the virus is now having a pandemic-like impact on the animal kingdom, too.

In France, the virus has been detected in foxes just outside of Paris.

Exact numbers of those the virus has infected have not been released, but according to Agriland, the one of the animals tested was found to have contracted the “highly pathogenic” H5N1 strain of bird flu.

And in the South American country of Peru, 3,500 wild sea lions died from the disease.

A new report from the government claimed that since November, 2022, around 3% of the country's entire sea lion population has been killed by the deadly HPAI strain.

  • Bird flu spreading from mammals to humans 'increasingly worrying,' experts warn

That follows on from tens of thousands of birds suffering the same face when the disease was brought to the country by pelicans.

According to Natural History Museum's news site, Robert Gutierrez, the Head of Surveillance at SERNANP – Peru's protected areas agency – said: “We know that bird flu is highly pathogenic in birds, but it can also affect mammals. There was a case in a child in Ecuador in January, and now sea lions are getting infected.”

“It's probable there would be people infected in places with infected animals.”

  • 'Mutated' bird flu pandemic 'could wipe out 50% of humans', experts warn

A World Health Organisation spokesman said: “Whether currently-circulating avian, swine and other zoonotic influenza viruses will result in a future pandemic is unknown.

“However, the diversity of zoonotic influenza viruses that have caused human infections is alarming and necessitates strengthened surveillance in both animal and human populations, thorough investigation of every zoonotic infection and pandemic preparedness planning.”

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