Prof. Amnon Lahad, chairman of Israel’s National Council for Community Health, told The Times of Israel that he is tracking the avian outbreak, which has killed thousands of wild birds.
“The widespread nature of the avian flu is very concerning, especially given that it is infecting chickens and not just wild birds. It’s made the move from wildlife to stock animals, and I’m hoping it won’t make the next step to humans,” he said Wednesday.
Most bird flu strains don’t infect humans. However, four strains have caused concern: H5N1 since 1997, H7N9 since 2013, H5N6 since 2014 and H5N8 since 2016. Lahad said that since little is known about the current infections, the possibility of a jump to humans must be taken seriously.
He said that a jump to humans could occur after a mutation, but that it’s also entirely possible the flu could cross species without a mutation.
Lahad warned, “it could be transmitted through contact with sick birds — not from touching or eating them, but rather through the same method we know from COVID, namely droplets passing into the respiratory system,” he said.