Devastating Bird Flu Outbreak; Worst in American History

( – Bird flocks in the United States, both farm and wild, are being obliterated on an unprecedented scale by a new outbreak of avian flu, or H5N1, researchers, and experts have warned.

What is described as the worst bird flu epidemic in American history has killed over 58 million birds, according to reports quoted by Newsmax.

A previous major avian flu outbreak in 2015 annihilated some 50 million birds.

“[The new outbreak is] wiping out everything in numbers we’ve never seen before,” commented University of Maryland professor Jennifer Mullinax.

“Unlike H5N8, this disease is heavily impacting wild birds,” University of Maryland researcher Johanna Harvey told Maryland Today.

“It’s difficult to estimate how many birds are truly affected across wild populations, but we’re seeing dramatic disease impacts in raptors, sea birds, and colonial nesting birds. And we now have the highest amount of poultry loss to avian influenza, so this is a worst-case scenario,” she elaborated.

Even though the new bird flu outbreak is not considered “a burgeoning problem for humans,” the World Health Organization (WHO), a UN body, has reported its first human victim – a woman in China.

According to the WHO statement, the 56-year-old woman from Guangdong in Southern China became the third known person infected with the H3N8 avian flu subtype.

The previous two cases were also in Communist China but occurred last year.

The third infection of H3N8 was announced by the Guangdong Provincial Centre for Disease Control and Prevention at the end of last month.

The WHO said the patient had been exposed to live poultry and had “multiple underlying conditions.”

“Sporadic infections in people with bird flu are common in China where avian flu viruses constantly circulate in huge poultry and wild bird populations,” the report points out.

According to the WHO, the woman might have caught the virus at a wet market she visited, and its samples were positive for influenza A(H3). However, no cases were found among her close contacts.

“Based on available information, it appears that this virus does not have the ability to spread easily from person to person, and therefore the risk of it spreading among humans at the national, regional, and international levels is considered to be low,” the WHO said in the statement.

Earlier this month, US officials revealed the federal Agriculture Department (USDA) is testing four potential poultry vaccines against bird flu.

Bird flu, also called the “highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI),” has killed hundreds of millions of birds worldwide. Wild birds mainly spread it.

Governments worldwide have been controlling the virus by culling poultry stocks.

According to the USDA, its “current strategy of stamping out and eradicating HPAI… continues to be the most effective strategy because it works.”

The four poultry vaccines tested by the department are one from each Zoetis Inc. and Merck Animal Health and two which the department’s Agricultural Research Service developed.