Recent research conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified multiple cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) A(H5N1) virus Eurasian lineage H5 clade 188.8.131.52b in wild terrestrial mammals in the United States. This groundbreaking finding adds to the growing body of evidence that highlights the susceptibility of various mammal species to HPAI.
The study revealed that red foxes, striped skunks, raccoons, bobcats, Virginia opossums, coyotes, fishers, and gray foxes were among the affected mammals. Urban and periurban environments, where many red foxes were found, may have contributed to increased public reporting due to heightened human interest in these animals.
The primary mode of transmission for mammals appears to be through the ingestion of birds infected with the HPAI virus. While there is no clear evidence of mammal-to-mammal transmission in these cases, the potential for horizontal transmission cannot be ruled out completely.
It is worth noting that H5N1 infections in humans remain rare, with only eleven reported cases globally since December 2021. However, the detection of new strains of avian influenza in wild mammals underscores the need for continued surveillance and research to better understand the distribution and evolution of these viruses in free-ranging wildlife.
To address these concerns, the CDC emphasizes the importance of ongoing surveillance for HPAI in wild mammals. This will not only contribute to a better understanding of virus distribution and evolution but also help identify potential spillover events from infected wild birds.
In conclusion, this research sheds light on the susceptibility of North American mammals to HPAI strains and highlights the need for vigilance in monitoring wildlife diseases. By gaining a better understanding of how these viruses spread and evolve, scientists can develop more effective strategies for disease prevention and control.
Q: What is Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI)?
A: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) is a strain of avian influenza that can cause severe illness and high mortality rates in infected birds. HPAI has different subtypes, such as H5N1, which has the potential to infect humans.
Q: How are mammals getting infected with HPAI?
A: Mammals, such as foxes and skunks, are most likely getting infected with HPAI through the ingestion of birds infected with the virus. While mammal-to-mammal transmission has not been confirmed, the possibility of horizontal transmission between mammals cannot be ruled out.
Q: Are HPAI infections in humans common?
A: No, HPAI infections in humans are rare. As of December 2023, there have been only eleven reported cases globally since December 2021.
Q: Why is it important to monitor HPAI in wild mammals?
A: Monitoring HPAI in wild mammals is crucial for understanding the distribution and evolution of these viruses in wildlife. It can help identify potential spillover events and inform disease prevention strategies.
Q: What can be done to prevent the spread of HPAI?
A: Prevention measures include surveillance and monitoring of both wild birds and mammals, practicing biosecurity measures in poultry farms, and promoting awareness and education about avian influenza among the public and healthcare professionals.