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Three new avian flu viruses that pose a huge threat to human beings caused scientists to start looking for answers immediately.Reuters reported that the deadly viruses infected wild birds and poultry in the U.S. Midwest. No human has been infected yet but one of the viruses, identified as H5N2, caused millions of chickens and turkeys to be slaughtered to prevent it from spreading. Avian flu is triggered by an influenza A type virus and is usually transmitted by free-flying waterfowl like ducks and geese.
Kare11 reported almost three million turkeys have been culled in 49 farms in Minnesota since March 2015. Governor Mark Dayton declared a state of emergency and various health and financial concerns were raised to resolve the pending issue.
Governor Dayton said, "There are over 200 state and federal officials working at the emergency center so there's a great deal of effort. And we learned from some of the turkey growers today that there are certain areas of concern certain areas of efficiency that we need to add to certainly. Not surprising, given the magnitude of this."
People who have direct contact with infected birds can acquire the virus, but it is very unlikely that the disease may be transferred from one human to another. It was also confirmed that humans cannot get infected by eating poultry.
Dr. Stephen Morse, Columbia University's developing infections expert, said, "Most of the time, these viruses don't have human disease potential, but obviously you need to be very careful. Nowadays, you can't say anything about flu with certainty."
The viruses are identified through two kinds of proteins, namely "H" proteins, or hemagglutinin and "N" proteins, or neuraminidase. The viruses originally came from Asia as a single H5N8 virus and spread quickly among wild birds that migrated along the Pacific flyway, reaching North America. The virus mutated when it reached North America, mixing with other avian influenza strains to become the viruses currently discovered.
Aside from the dangerous H5N2 virus, scientists still found the original H5N8 as well as the completely new H5N1 virus, based on the same report by Reuters.
Various analyses are currently being conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to prevent the viruses from further mutating and turning into human viruses.
Dr. Jurgen Richt, Kansas State University avian flu expert, said, "This is something we need to avoid: it is something that could happen and which we have to look for."