Photo by jules_shanghai // from the Shanghaiist Flickr pool
By Paul Hickey
Another animal has been diagnosed with another disease that could potentially infect humans. More than 4.4 million ducks have been found to be infected with a new virus named BYD Virus. It causes reduced mobility, a reduction in the number of eggs produced, a loss of appetite and in many cases, death.
The new virus has been identified as a flavivirus, ie., a “class of viruses that includes those that cause yellow and dengue fevers”.
As microbiologist George Gao of the Chinese Academy of Sciences explains, “most flaviviruses are zoonotic,” meaning they can be transmitted from animals to people, so “infection of human beings cannot be ruled out.”
The disease was first seen as early as April of last year but the identification of the virus has taken some time because of the need to differentiate it from avian flu. The virus was identified and the next step is to produce a vaccine to fight against the disease. In the mean time the situation is being closely monitored.
So before any mass hysteria sets in, take note that no humans have been infected and hopefully we can avoid the media circus of previous “pandemics”. After all, 2005 was the year of the bird, 2009 the year of the swine. It seems that 2011 may not be the year of the rabbit after all, but rather, the year of the duck, though here’s hoping not.