Bird flu pandemic worse than 2009 swine flu outbreak could be on its way to Britain

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/bird-flu-pandemic-worse-2009-10681493

A bird flu pandemic could be heading Britain’s way, warn scientists (Photo: Reuters)

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Scientists fear a bird flu pandemic worse than the 2009 swine flu outbreak could be heading Britain’s way.

And the UK is making no preparations for a vaccine to prevent it.

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “Given the severity of the warnings, the Government ought to say what measures it is taking to improve preparedness to deal with an outbreak like this.”

More than 1,300 bird flu victims have been identified, mostly in China.

Of those, 476 have died, a rate of more than one in three.

There are also victims in Indonesia, Egypt and Vietnam, and two cases in Canada of people travelling from China.

Jon Ashworth wants the Government to outline what measures it is taking to improve preparedness(Photo: Getty)

The virus, H7N9, has so far only been caught by humans from birds or a close family member who is infected.

But scientists say that it is only two mutations away from widespread human-to-human transmission.

A warning in New Scientist magazine says: “If the virus evolves the ability to spread between humans easily, it will go pandemic and circle the world in weeks.”

Flu experts say if that happens it is likely to be more severe than the H1N1 swine flu pandemic that swept Britain eight years ago.

The virus, H7N9, has so far only been caught by humans from birds or a close family member who is infected

They fear it could rival the 1918 pandemic when a bird flu strain killed up to 100million people worldwide.

The 2009 swine flu outbreak in Britain struck 800,000 people and caused more than 280 deaths.

The US Centre for Disease Control said: “It is possible that this latest virus could gain the ability to spread easily and sustainably among people, triggering a global outbreak.”

A Public Health England (PHE) spokesman said, “The risk of the influenza A H7N9 strain to residents in the UK remains very low, and similarly for those travelling to China.

“However, we are monitoring and we advise precautions are taken to protect those travelling against possible infection.

“These precautions include avoiding visiting live animal markets and poultry farms and avoiding contact with animal waste or untreated bird feathers. Only eat thoroughly cooked poultry, egg or duck dishes and always thoroughly wash your hands with soap and warm water. Do not touch dead or dying birds in China and do not bring poultry products back to the UK.”

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