Health experts are calling for consumers and the public in general not to panic after the first bird flu cases were confirmed within the European Union. The discovery of the virus in several wild swans in Greece and Italy has provoked the World Health organisation into demanding stricter controls but mainly as a precautionary measure. The incidence of birds being found with the virus has gradually spread westwards, provoking fears of an increase with the imminent spring migration.
So far the virus is confined to birds and only some humans who come into close contact with them. But epidemiologist specialists such as Giovanni Rezza in Italy fear it might not stop there: “The main risk for now is that the virus can pass from animals to humans, but the virus may mutate and begin being passed from person to person. The problem then is that it may become more virulent and highly contagious – but for now that is only a theory and not reality.”
Scientists are increasingly focused on finding a vaccine that will counter the effects of the virus should the worst happen. The human death toll world wide has reached 88 and experts say more funding is needed to help poorer nations implement stricter hygiene and isolation controls to limit any rise.