Home Beauty TikTok Star Emmanuel Has Avian Flu: Everything You Need to Know

TikTok Star Emmanuel Has Avian Flu: Everything You Need to Know

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The Washington Post

Reduced contact between wild birds and farm birds has been the most effective measure in Australia to reduce avian influenza outbreaks in poultry

Viral TikTok star Emmanuel – an emu who became popular on the internet through the videos of his owner at Knuckle Bump Farms in Florida – reportedly has come down with the avian influenza.

The farm’s owner Taylor Blake wrote on Twitter that wild geese brought avian influenza to the farm, causing many birds to die.

People now ask: what is avian influenza, and what do I need to know about it? As a large outbreak sweeps poultry farms around the US and UK. The avian influenza virus is what it sounds like.

Several species of birds are affected by avian influenza, which is caused by an influenza A virus.
In addition to its potential impact on health, production, and even international trade, it has significant implications for the poultry industry.

Although this influenza does not typically affect humans, it is a zoonotic virus. That means it can be passed onto humans through contact with infected birds, and occasional cases have been reported during outbreaks in the poultry trade.

It is known that some avian influenza viruses are more pathogenic than others. Since pathogenic means disease-causing, highly pathogenic avian influenza can affect a poultry farm suddenly and seriously.

Since January 2022, poultry and wild birds in the US have been affected by an outbreak of the highly pathogenic strain on the farm where Emmanuel lives.

Low pathogenic strains can still make birds unwell and cause them to lay fewer eggs.

From mild upper respiratory symptoms to severe pneumonia, avian influenza infections in humans can cause a variety of clinical symptoms.

It’s important to know that strains of avian influenza, such as highly pathogenic H5N1 and H7N9, can lead to illness in humans and even death.

For people, a recommended standard treatment for humans is to take antiviral drugs, depending on individual circumstances and how severe the symptoms are.

It is more likely that domestic birds would contract the disease if they were in contact with wild birds infected with the disease. Direct contact or contact through water contaminated with wild bird droppings are the most likely scenarios.
Usually, avian influenza outbreaks on poultry farms require the culling of many birds.

Has avian flu come to Australia?
To clarify, Australia is classed as avian influenza-free by the World Organization for Animal Health, with no evidence of the virus in our domestic birds. But there is currently a low-level circulation of low-pathogenic avian influenza viruses among wild birds.

There have been many low- and highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreaks in Australian poultry, with the most recent ones taking place in Victoria. Birds have been killed in all of the cases, and eradication has been successful in each.

While it is important to use hygienic practices and biosecurity when working with poultry, none of the viruses causing these outbreaks in Australia have caused disease in humans.

There is no H5N1 outbreak in Australia at the moment; waterfowl, which are most likely to carry this virus, do not migrate here. Furthermore, Australia has very strict biosecurity measures in place to prevent diseases from being imported. This strain therefore poses a very low risk of being introduced to the country.

Most of the efforts by Australian authorities aimed at decreasing the risk of an outbreak of avian influenza in the country’s poultry are intended to limit contact between wild birds and farmed birds.

In other words, wild birds should be restricted from accessing farms, as well as water sources should be protected and treated.

Over the past decade, there has been a rapid increase in the number of epidemics among Australia’s fauna. Preliminary research suggests this upswing in pests may be the result of greater access to free-range poultry.

In a paper I coauthored in 2019, we explored different approaches to reducing risk, noting that a 25 percent shift in indoor farms to free-range farmers would result in a 6–7% increase in the risk of high pathogenic avian influenza outbreaks. The current practices for treating water reduce outbreak risk by 25–28% compared to not treating the water.

Halving wild bird population presence in storage areas may reduce outbreak risk by 16-19% and also, halving wild bird population presence in sheds can also reduce the risk by 23-25%.

In Australia, a large outbreak would be extremely costly for industry, would kill a large number of birds, and could end up posing a health risk to humans.

Avian influenza vaccines for poultry are available, but these would only be considered if there was a widespread outbreak.

Appropriate biosecurity practices continue to be the most important tool for us to stop poultry from spreading any future outbreaks.

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