STAT Examines Bird Flu, Potential For Resurgence
STAT: What happened to bird flu? How a major threat to human health faded from view
“Just over a dozen years ago, a bird flu virus known as H5N1 was charting a destructive course through Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East, ravaging poultry in apocalyptic numbers and killing six in 10 humans known to have contracted it. The overall human death toll was low — in the hundreds — but scientists and government officials feared that the virus could ignite a human pandemic reminiscent of the catastrophic 1918 Spanish flu. Emergency plans were drafted, experimental H5N1 vaccines were created and tested, antiviral drugs were stockpiled. And then … nothing happened. The virus continued to kill chickens and to occasionally infect and sometimes kill people. But as the years passed, the number of human H5N1 cases subsided. There has not been a single H5N1 human infection detected since February 2017. This is the good news. The bad news is that the situation could change in an instant…” (Branswell, 2/13).