Poultry and fur farm workers begin receiving vaccines against bird flu

Workers at poultry and fur farms in Finland will, in the coming days, receive vaccines against bird flu becoming the first of 14 other EU countries signed up to procure bird-flu vaccines through a European Commission program.

The U.S. government has also bought vaccines in anticipation of a pandemic. And it recently commissioned Moderna, a pharmaceutical company, to create an mrna bird-flu vaccine using a technology that was effective in protecting against covid-19.

The illness is also called avian flu or highly pathogenic avian influenza. The usual carriers are wild waterfowl; when these birds migrate, so does the virus. It is easily transmitted to domestic poultry and is highly contagious and deadly for them. Usually it is rare for bird flu to infect mammals, including humans.

But the strain of the virus that is currently circulating, h5n1, has infected hundreds of mammals. This spring it was found in dairy cows in Texas. It has since been found in dairy herds in at least 12 American states. With each mammal that is infected, there is a possibility that the virus mutates, allowing it to jump to humans more easily.

n the nearly three decades since h5n1 was first detected in geese in China, worldwide around 900 people are known to have been infected, usually from contact with infected birds. Nearly half of them died. Still, mild or asymptomatic infections would have gone undetected, making the fatality rate lower. Since the current outbreak reached Europe and the Americas in 2021, cases have been reported only in Britain (five) and the United States (also five, the latest of them in July). All of them worked on dairy or poultry farms, and their symptoms were mild (including eye infections and respiratory symptoms).

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Peg Fong is also in recovery from newspapers

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