WHO: H5 Flu Viruses Most Obvious Health Threat

The agency posted an update titled "warning signals from the volatile world of influenza viruses." It said the world is better prepared for an influenza pandemic.

Saying the current global influenza situation "is characterized by a number of trends that must be closely monitored," the World Health Organization's latest update includes warnings about animal influenza viruses co-circulating and exchanging genetic material, giving rise to novel strains; continuing cases of human H7N9 infections in China; a recent spurt of human H5N1 cases in Egypt; and changes in the H3N2 seasonal influenza viruses that have affected the protection conferred by the current vaccine.

"The highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza virus, which has been causing poultry outbreaks in Asia almost continuously since 2003 and is now endemic in several countries, remains the animal influenza virus of greatest concern for human health. From end-2003 through January 2015, 777 laboratory-confirmed human cases of H5N1 virus infection have been reported to WHO from 16 countries. Of these cases, 428 (55.1%) have been fatal," according to the update. "Over the past two years, H5N1 has been joined by newly detected H5N2, H5N3, H5N6, and H5N8 strains, all of which are currently circulating in different parts of the world. In China, H5N1, H5N2, H5N6, and H5N8 are currently co-circulating in birds together with H7N9 and H9N2. The H9N2 virus has been an important addition to this mix, as it served as the 'donor' of internal genes for the H5N1 and H7N9 viruses. Over the past four months, two human infections with H9N2 occurred in China. Both infections were mild and the patients fully recovered. Virologists interpret the recent proliferation of emerging viruses as a sign that co-circulating influenza viruses are rapidly exchanging genetic material to form novel strains. Viruses of the H5 subtype have shown a strong ability to contribute to these so-called 'reassortment' events."

"The emergence of so many novel viruses has created a diverse virus gene pool made especially volatile by the propensity of H5 and H9N2 viruses to exchange genes with other viruses. The consequences for animal and human health are unpredictable yet potentially ominous," it states.

It says H5 and H7 viruses are of greatest concern because they can rapidly mutate from a form that causes mild symptoms in birds to one that causes severe illness and death in poultry populations.

The most promising part of the update is its section on global flu pandemic preparedness, which is better than ever before, WHO reports, adding that during 2014, the 142 laboratories in 112 countries in the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System tested more than 1.9 million clinical specimens, helping to keep a close eye on influenza viruses.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Get the Ultimate Guide to OSHA Recordkeeping

    OSHA’s Form 300A posting deadline is February 1! Are you prepared? To help answer your key recordkeeping questions, IndustrySafe put together this guide with critical compliance information.

  • Steps to Conduct a JSA

    We've put together a comprehensive step-by-step guide to help you perform a job safety analysis (JSA), which includes a pre-built, JSA checklist and template, steps of a JSA, list of potential job hazards, and an overview of hazard control hierarchy.

  • Everything You Need to Know about Incident investigations

    Need some tips for conducting an incident investigation at work after there’s been an occupational injury or illness, or maybe even a near miss? This guide presents a comprehensive overview of methods of performing incident investigations to lead you through your next steps.

  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • Industry Safe

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - November December 2020

    November December 2020

    Featuring:

    • COLD STRESS
      Managing Cold Stress
    • TRAINING: FALL PROTECTION
      Providing Training for Fall Protection
    • PPE: HEARING PROTECTION
      Eight Tips for Hearing Testing Day
    • FACILITY SECURITY
      Incorporating COVID-19 Protections into Safety Programs
    View This Issue