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“Better not let your guard down”

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“Better not let your guard down”

The latest cases of flu recorded around the world have raised attention to the likes of never before llink between animal and human health, so much so that the major international organizations active in the surveillance of human and animal health invite us not to let our guard down to prevent the emergence of new pandemics. This is, for example, the position of World Health Organization (Woah), World Health Organization (Oms) e Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (Fao).

The peak of bird flu

The peak of bird flu may have passed, but the season is not over yet. According to Woah’s latest report, they were still in the weeks between February 17 and March 9 2.2 million dead or slaughtered animals due to highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses, especially H5N1. Over 200 outbreaks, 44 in poultry farms and about 160 in wild birds, more than 80% in Europe. “Based on seasonal trends, the number of outbreaks in animals is expected to have peaked and to start declining,” she said. Woah, who however invited to keep surveillance highalso in view of the high spread of infection in mammals.

The risk to man

To date, it is difficult to quantify the risk to humans. Last month WHO clarified that to kill a little girl in Cambodia in February, it was a strain of the virus that has been circulating in poultry in Southeast Asia for 10 years, and there is no relationship to the current outbreak. “For the moment theWHO rates the risk to humans as lowBut we cannot assume that this will remain the case. We must prepare for any change in the status quo“.

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The appeal of international agencies

Also for this reason, i representatives of international agencies with expertise in nutrition (Fao), on the environment (Unep), on human health (WHO) and on animal health (Woah) have launched a call to accelerate the adoption of a ‘One Health‘ approach to the main global challenges, especially pandemics. “Recent international health emergencies such as the pandemic of Covid-19, smallpox Amonkeys, Ebola epidemics and the continuing threats from other zoonotic diseases, food security, antimicrobial resistance challenges, as well as ecosystem degradation and climate change clearly demonstrate the need for resilient health systems,” they wrote. Meanwhile, work continues on a new plan to deal with pandemics: after a first meeting at the end of February, national representatives in the WHO will meet next week to discuss the first draft.

Bill Gates intervention

The goal is to arrive at a shared document to be presented to the World Health Assembly of next year. In recent days, Bill Gates has also taken the field again: with an intervention in the New York Times he expressed the fear that the same mistakes of the past are being made and invited to prepare for epidemics as one does for fires. “If a fire is left to burn out of control, it poses a threat not just to a home but to an entire community,” he wrote.

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