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Professor Michael Baker and other experts urging NZ to prepare for bird flu following Australia’s first human H5N1 case

Summarised by Centrist 

Public health experts, including Professor Michael Baker are pitching the need for New Zealand to increase its pandemic preparedness. This follows Australia’s confirmation of its first human H5N1 bird flu case. 

Reports claim that the H5N1 strain has been spreading globally among wild birds and poultry for over two years and is evolving with the potential to adapt to human transmission. 

In the human case in Australia, the individual was a young traveller returning from a country where H5N1 is circulating. No other cases have been identified through contact tracing, and, although the individual developed symptoms, they have since recovered. 

Professor Nigel French of Massey University said this is common for human cases of bird flu: sporadic, severe infections with no evidence of sustained transmission.

According to Reuters/RNZ, the US CDC says risk to the public remains low. Reportedly, there is only one case of cow-to-human transmission, but no evidence of human-to-human transmission.

Editor’s note: It seems like Michael Baker is a very cautious person, based on his countless warnings and interviews during COVID. Many see him as one of the prominent faces of the COVID oversell. 

According to WHO, globally, there have been fewer than 900 cases and 463 deaths due to H5N1 reported since 2003. Yet, experts are ringing the alarm, calling for measures to be taken including ensuring timely access to testing, antivirals, and, of course, vaccines.

Read more over at RNZ

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