The federal health experts are making rigorous efforts to develop vaccines working on human and birds against an avian flu that has triggered an outbreak by killing millions of turkeys and chickens across the United States.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, more than 3.8 million egg-laying hens and over 2.5 million turkeys have lost their lives to the highly pathogenic H5N2 bird flu in the worst affected states of Iowa and Minnesota respectively.
The bird flu strain has affected roughly 16 American states so far. The Agriculture Department on Wednesday announced about 13 new outbreaks that have been reported in Minnesota. With the new outbreaks, the total number of affected farms has reached to 44.
On Wednesday, the agriculture regulators reported incidents of two new outbreaks in Wisconsin. One of the two outbreaks affected an egg operation with 800,000 hens, leading to the second-largest incident in the country since the bird flu began spreading earlier this year.
The health experts at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that even though no incidences of human illness have been reported so far, they are trying to develop a human vaccine against H5N2 avian strain.
Dr. Alicia Fry, from the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, on Wednesday said that the main goal of CDC is “preparedness”.
The USDA scientists are also working on developing an avian vaccine.
“We are really at the beginning of this. We are cautiously optimistic we will not see any human cases, but there is a possibility we may,” Fry said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) figures show H5N1 strain has been linked to 784 human infections and 429 deaths through March 3, 2015.