WHO warns bird flu's risk to humans could increase: 6 updates

Avian flu has begun to spread to mammals, including minks, otters, foxes and sea lions, and WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, warned that the risk to humans may begin to rise.

"For the moment, the WHO assesses the risk to humans as low, but we cannot assume that will remain the case and we must prepare for any change in the status quo," Dr. Tedros said in a press briefing. 

The current strain, H5N1, has been around since 1996 and has transmitted to and between humans on "rare and non-sustained" occasions.

Here are five bird flu updates:

  1. Federal scientists are preparing to test the first vaccines in poultry against bird flu in years, CBS News reported Feb. 9.
  1. A record 58 million birds, mostly commercially raised poultry, have died in the outbreak, according to the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

  2. Every state has detected the virus spreading among wild birds and 47 have spotted them in poultry, according to the CDC.

  3. The first report of the avian flu in mammals in the U.S. came in May, when Michigan and Minnesota reported foxes infected with the disease. Here is a timeline of the mammals reported to have avian flu.

  4. Of the 868 global cases in humans reported since 2003, 457 were fatal.

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