WHO warns Sri Lanka against bird flu as avian influenza spreads globally.

Urgent Alert: WHO Warns Sri Lanka Against Bird Flu Outbreak

Sri Lanka on High Alert for  Bird Flu Avian Influenza Spread

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a warning to Sri Lanka amid the rapid global spread of avian influenza. With the virus mutating and posing potential risks to humans, experts anticipate new flu symptoms in high-risk individuals this summer. Vivien Dugan, PhD, from the CDC, highlighted the broad range of symptoms to monitor, including less common ones like diarrhea and seizures.

Since 2022, avian influenza A viruses have been detected in over 9,300 wild birds across the US, affecting both commercial and backyard flocks. Florian Krammer, PhD, from Mount Sinai, noted significant exposure in urban areas, including New York City. Birds shed the virus through saliva, mucous, and feces, posing risks to those in close contact.

March 2024 marked a surprising development with H5N1 bird flu reported in dairy cows in the US, infecting 101 dairy herds across 12 states. Human cases of H5N1 linked to dairy cows have been reported in Texas and Michigan. The WHO also highlighted recent human cases of avian influenza in India and Australia, emphasizing the need for Sri Lanka to remain vigilant.

Dugan advised that while the general public’s risk remains low, those working with animals should take precautions, including wearing personal protective equipment. The WHO’s alert follows India’s report of a human case of avian influenza A(H9N2) in a child and Australia’s confirmation of its first human H5N1 case in May 2024.