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Experts warn of ‘catastrophic’ avian flu – symptoms

Our Yorkshire Farm: Amanda's son outlines bird flu 'worries'

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Bird flu was most recently a threat to human health in the late 2000s and early 2010s, during the bird flu pandemic.

While this didn’t take off in the same way Covid did, the virus still caused many to become severely ill.

Fast forward to 2022, and conservationists are calling for ministers to ban the release of gamebirds to prevent wild birds being wiped out.

The RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) Director of Policy Jeff Knott said: “We know this virus can spread incredibly quickly and easily. It could get really scary. The reason we are calling for this now is that the effects of doing nothing could be absolutely catastrophic.”

Although mainly birds would be affected by the outbreak, it is essential this is brought under control, so it doesn’t, as it did during the early 2000s, spread to humans.

The NHS describes bird flu as “an infectious type of influenza that spreads among birds. In rare cases, it can affect humans” and describes four strains of the virus which have gone on to infect humans, the most recent of which appeared in 2016.

Should the bird flu virus spread to humans in the UK, because of the nation’s recent experience with the virus, the health services have strategies for fighting the disease.

The NHS added: “Plans are in place to manage any suspected cases of bird flu in the UK.”

What are the other threats facing the UK?

There are a range of viral threats other than the potential one bird flu could cause.

Hepatitis

Earlier this year, doctors began noticing a rise in cases of a mysterious form of hepatitis in children in Scotland. The disease soon spread to the rest of the UK and to other countries around the world.

While treatments for the disease are still in development, the cause of the outbreak is believed to have been found.

Said cause is a combination of three factors:
• COVID-19 lockdowns
• Adenovirus
• Adeno-associated virus two (AAV2).

It is believed the lockdowns led to children having a reduced immunity to the adenovirus and AAV2, two viruses which subsequently took advantage of the gap in viral immunity.

Monkeypox

Originating in Africa, monkeypox is experiencing a revival in the UK four years after the first cases were detected in 2018.

However, unlike those earlier cases, this form of monkeypox is spreading much more efficaciously and among a more specific group with most of the cases among sexually active young men who have sex with other men.

This doesn’t mean monkeypox is a sexually transmitted infection; rather, it is a virus spread through large droplets or through contact with the skin, clothes, or bedsheets of someone with the condition.

Symptoms of monkeypox include:
• A rash
• A high temperature
• A headache
• Muscle aches
• Backache
• Swollen glands
• Shivering
• Exhaustion
• Joint pain.

Coronavirus

Coronavirus is and has been the dominant viral threat since it arrived in the UK in early 2020. The country is currently experiencing the tale end of a fifth wave, one driven by new sub-variants of the dominant variant in the country, Omicron.

As immunity from vaccines and previous infections wain, there are concerns about how well the public is protected from the virus when the next wave hits.

Polio

Polio was detected in the UK for the first time since 1984 earlier this year when samples were detected in the sewers of north London.

As the virus continues to be detected, the government has announced all children between the ages of one and nine will receive a polio booster to prevent an outbreak.

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