“The situation will be worrying if the pigs are contaminated” reassures the Committee for Monitoring and Anticipation of Health Risks

The president of Covars, Brigitte Autran, reacts to the comments of the WHO on Thursday, which shared its “huge concern” about the growing spread of the H5N1 source of avian flu.


Reading time: 1 min

Brigitte Autran, president of Covars, during the launch of the flu vaccination campaign on October 18, 2022. (LUC NOBOUT / MAXPPP)

The president of the Health Risk Monitoring and Anticipation Committee, Brigitte Autran, would like to reassure Thursday April 18 on franceinfo: “The situation will become really worrying if pigs are contaminated with the avian flu virus, since this would mean that the virus has evolved and could also affect humans”. Reaction after the World Health Organization (WHO) shared its “huge concern” on the increasing spread of the H5N1 source of avian influenza. At the beginning of April, a cattle breeder was infected in the United States and developed symptoms of conjunctiva.

On the other hand, the avian flu virus adapts. “For several years, there has been an increase in cases of avian flu in wild and domestic birds,” notes Brigitte Autran, who continues: “What is worrying is the transmission of the virus by birds to wild mammals in Europe, Africa, Asia, South and North America. If it is developing so quickly, it is because it is adapting quickly, there is therefore a risk of transmission to humans”, concludes the president of Covars. Transmission from animals to humans is not new, but there has never been human-to-human transmission.

As a reminder, the WHO has recorded 880 human cases of H5N1 influenza infection in 23 countries over the last 20 years (from 2003 to 2024). It is a “very severe” disease, with a mortality rate of almost 50%, and it constitutes “the disease most at risk of developing a severe pandemic”, recalls Brigitte Autran. After a vaccine to protect domestic ducks, a vaccine for cattle is currently being studied, specifies the president of the Committee for Monitoring and Anticipation of Health Risks.

source site-14