An outbreak of a particularly contagious bird flu virus has been reported in Saudi Arabia, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) warns, as the world struggles to contain the spread of a deadly China coronavirus.
The outbreak took place in the central Sudair region, located some 150 kilometers north of the nation’s capital of Riyadh. The disease already killed more than 22,000 birds, the OIE said, citing the Saudi Agriculture Ministry. More than 385,000 birds were also slaughtered out of precaution. This is the first such outbreak since July 2018.
The H5N8 strain of the bird flu, which was detected in Saudi Arabia, was previously considered not particularly contagious for humans. Yet, it has been recently declared to have become increasingly more pathogenic.
Earlier on Tuesday, a similar alarming report about a bird flu outbreak came from Vietnam, where another highly pathogenic virus strain — H5N6 — led to the deaths of 2,200 birds in a village in the country’s north.
On February 1, China, which has already been gripped with a novel coronavirus originated from the city of Wuhan, reported that an outbreak of the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus was detected in its central Hunan province.
While it hasn’t occupied the news spotlight lately, H5N1 is said to be an even deadlier virus to those who contract it. Nearly 60 percent of H5N1 patients die after contracting the sickness, compared to two percent of Wuhan coronavirus (2019 nCoV) patients thus far.