As Dr. Fauci Says, ‘It’s One Health in One World: Is the U.S. Prepared?’


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The World Health Organization just confirmed the first-ever fatal case of a subtype of bird flu (Avian influenza A H5N2) in Mexico.

This is the first laboratory-confirmed human case of the H5N2 strain of bird flu, or avian influenza, reported globally . This 59-year old man insisted that he had no exposure to poultry or wild birds, or for that matter any birds. Cats are a so-called potential bridging host. It’s unknown if this individual had any exposure to cats.

While much remains a mystery, it is true that this individual had various significant health problems, and had been bedridden for several weeks with unrelated issues which likely did compromise his immune system. Still, this is a mystery.

The good news is that of the 17 people the patient came into contact with at the hospital, one person reported a runny nose in late April. Samples taken from the contacts tested negative for flu of any type and negative for COVID-19.

This bird flue strain is different than the bird flu strain that is currently circulating in livestock in the United States and has infected three dairy workers in the U.S.

Lessons Not Learned

Only days before this happened, Dr. Anthony Fauci,  former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), testified at a House subcommittee hearing about the US response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the origins of the virus. The intent of this hearing is to be better prepared for what all scientists world-wide agree is an inevitable next time. Instead, the hearing devolved quickly into a partasin name-calling event, with legislators rarely discussing relevant issues, and Republicans attacking Dr. Fauci. The attacks – whether you believe Dr. Fauci is a good guy or not – do nothing to better understand what happened or how to prepare better next time. Whether what occurred in Mexico is a start of a “next time,” or the next pandemic is five or 50 years aways, it’s inevitable.

Dr. Fauci conceded it’s still unclear how the human sudden acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2, which causes COVID-19 in humans began. Fauci (and most scientists worldwide) agree the virus probably began in a so-called “wet market,” where animals of all kinds – including illegally trafficked animals – are all together in one place, hugely stressed, with little appropriate sanitation – many butchered on the spot – and with a proven history of disease transmission as well as food-borne illnesses in humans. Animal welfare groups, veterinary organizations and infectious disease groups – as well as the World Health Organization – have all long-warned about these places and have called for their closures, which has not occurred, though Southeast Asian countries including China said they would make changes. This has not occurred in a significant way. Whether or not the virus began in a wet market or a lab in Wuhan – or jumped from one place to another – the wet markets need to go away.

Bird Flu on Strain or Another

Sporadic infections with highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H5N1) viruses in mammals have been reported in the United States, Canada, and other countries, but the risk to the general public from these viruses remains low, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Still, three human cases of avian influenza AH5N1 have been reported in the United States, and a mysterious death of a man in Mexico to AH5N2. Hopefully, these illnesses won’t be transmitted to other animals where the virus can mutate to transmit to humans. The point is, if not this virus, there will be another.

Humans are in close contact with companion animals who potentially may be carriers, not to mention exposure to wildlife which we don’t even think about. As only one example, the Ebola virus began as result of human exposure to fruit bats, porcupines and non-human primates.

The coronavirus causing COVID-19 will continue to mutate – and hopefully and likely continue to move in the direction of not causing as serious illness, but could change direction too. Is the United States at all prepared?  I suggest the world is not prepared and the U.S. even less so as public officials are too busy fighting among themselves politically.

I touched on this about two years ago in one of my conversations on WGN Radio with Dr. Fauci.