Amid an avian influenza outbreak in birds across nine Indian states, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) urges World Health Organization (WHO) to immediately dispatch a technical team to investigate the situation. India currently has nearly 10.5 million cases of COVID-19 and over 151,000 deaths – the WHO must ensure this new outbreak is contained and does not cause widespread human infections in an already fragile public health system.
Viral samples from the current outbreak, including from wild and domesticated birds, have been found to contain influenza sub-types H5N8 and H5N1– strains that can jump species and infect humans who come in contact with an affected bird. While six people (out of 18 infected) died from bird flu in Hong Kong in 1997, there has been no known human-to-human transmission so far in India.
“With the potential ramifications of transmission to humans, along with the financial toll bird flu takes on the economy, this could be disastrous for the country and potentially the world – the WHO simply cannot take a chance of yet another deadly infectious disease crossing borders,” said AHF President Michael Weinstein. “We urge Director-General Tedros and the WHO to be proactive in getting a team on the ground that can assess the situation firsthand.”
Several affected states in India have begun culling tens of thousands of birds in an attempt to contain the two virus sub-types. While transmission among humans is relatively rare, the mortality rate is approximately 60%, according to WHO.
AHF India Cares has been working in the country since 2004 and currently provides HIV care and treatment to 2,643 clients.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 1.5 million clients in 45 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare and Instagram: @aidshealthcare