FDA preparing for bird flu pandemic: chief

FDA preparing for bird flu pandemic: chief

The FDA is preparing for a possible bird flu pandemic in humans that might be fatal for one out of every four people it infects, according to the agency’s official, DailyMail reported.

FDA chief says low risk of bird flu in humans, but high vigilance for potential outbreaks

Dr. Robert Calif, the FDA commissioner, mentioned to a Senate Committee that they are creating plans to distribute tests, antiviral medications, and vaccines if the virus starts infecting humans. However, he stressed that the chance of it spreading to people is still low, with only one confirmed case of a farm worker in Texas.

The dairy worker went to a doctor in late March because his eyes were painful, red, swollen, and had burst blood vessels. Despite these symptoms, he didn’t have a fever, and his lungs seemed fine, as stated in a letter about his case that was released in the New England Journal of Medicine on Friday.

Califf spoke to the Senate’s agriculture committee on Wednesday. ‘This virus, like all viruses, is mutating,’ he told the policymakers. ‘We need to continue to prepare for the possibility that it might jump to humans,” he said.

“[The] real worry is that it will jump to the human lungs where, when that has happened in other parts of the world… the mortality rate has been 25 percent,” the official added.

Officials stress food safety and emphasize preparedness measures

Bird flu seems to be spreading among cattle for the first time, having jumped from birds, according to DailyMail. When a virus spreads, especially between different species, it tends to mutate, which might make it easier for the virus to infect people.

Parts of the virus have been found in products like grocery store milk (in about one in five samples), as well as in cottage cheese and sour cream. However, officials assure that these products are safe to eat because the pasteurization process destroys the virus.

“We gotta have testing, gotta have anti-virals and we need to have a vaccine ready to go,” the FDA chief stated. “We have been busy getting prepared for if the virus does mutate in a way that allows it to jump into humans on a larger level.”

The US already has about 20 million bird flu vaccines in its national stockpile, which officials say are a good match for the H5N1 virus. They also mention that they can produce an additional 100 million vaccines quickly if needed.

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